Mariella Devia, Lyrico-dramatico Coloratura Soprano, comparison with Fleming

This singer is a marvel, and she is still singing today.  Her name is Mariella Devia, and she is 72 years.  I think that she devotes most of her time to teaching, but you will see here “Je veux vivre” from Roméo et Juliette that is amazing for its freshness.  I cannot say enough good things about her.  She is not forcing sound at any time.  She is not using the swallowing muscles to over darken the sound, and she is not retracting her tongue to make the “hooty” sound that is all the rage today.  She is in many ways a throwback to a different era, but she also, just by her own body of work, tells us that good singing is not dead.  On the contrary, it is quite alive, and there are singers who do sing on the breath.

Lucrezia
Ah, È spento! é spento

Il Duco
Dov’è desso? Dov’è

Lucrezia
Mira: è là

(Lucrezia pointing at the body of Gennaro)

Era desso il figluo mio, la mia speme, il mio conforto.
Ei potea placarmi, Iddio,
me parea far pura ancor.
Ogni luci in lui ‘me ‘spenta, il mio cuore con esso è morto.
Sul mio capo il cielo avventa i suol strale punitor,

COURTIERS
Rio misterio! Orribil caso! Si socorra, ella muor!

Lucrezia
Ah, He is dead!

The Duke
Where is that man? Where is he?

Lucrezia
Look: he is there.

(Lucrezia pointing to the body of Gennaro)

He was my son, my hope, my comfort.
He could have placated God for me.
He seemed to make me pure again.
Every light in him has been put out. My heart died with him.
Over my head Heaven unleashed its punishing bolt.

COURTIERS
Cruel Mystery! Horrible fate! Help her, she is dying

(Lucrezia collapses into the arms of her ladies-in-weighting)

I will only point out three things here. 1) Fleming is wearing a head microphone. This should not be necessary for a soprano signing in her Fach. Second, she has no concept of what a trill is; and third, she had no business singing this music. She was a light lyric soprano, at best. But somewhere along her career, someone, or someones told her that she could sing everything, and she did. Most of it badly. We were spared her singing Brunnhilde.

Compare with Sutherland.

Tornami a vagheggiar,
te solo vuol amar
quest’anima fedel,
caro mio bene.

Già ti donai il mio cor;
fido sarà il mio amor;
mai ti sarò crudel,
cara mia speme.
Tornami a vagheggiar. ecc.

Return to me to languish,
Only you it wants to love
this faithful heart,
My dear, my good one, my dear!

Already I gave you my heart :
I trust you will be my love;
but you will be too cruel,
my dear hope.

Here she is at 71. This means two things. We don’t have any sopranos singing this well this late in life, and we don’t have many sopranos singing this well at all.

Mariella Devia, born on April 12, 1948, is one of the great bel canto interpreters of the late 20th century. Born in Chiusavecchia, she trained at the Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia before making her stage debut in 1973 in the title role of “Lucia di Lammermoor.”

She would become a fixture throughout Italy, eventually making her debut at the Teatro alla Scala in 1987. From there she would sing all around the world, including the Metropolitan Opera, Carnegie Hall, the Paris Opera, the Royal Opera House, the Teatro Comunale di Bologna, the Festival della Valle d’Itria, the Pesaro Festival, and the Teatro la Fenice, among many others.

Devia retired from the stage in May 2018 with a performance of “Norma” at La Fenice. She was also awarded the “Premio Una Vita Nella Musica 2018.” She has continued performing in concerts.

Devia was an excellent bel canto interpreter, centering on the works of Donizetti, Rossini, and Bellini. In sum, 13 roles by Donizetti and championed some of the composer’s lesser-known operas, including “Il Castello di Kenilworth,” “Adelia,” “Marino Faliero,” and “Parisina.” She is one of the few artists to take on the three Tudor operas and “Lucrezia Borgia.”

She interpreted 11 Rossini roles, including such rare works as “Adelaide di Borgogna,” “Il Signor Bruschino,” “Zelmira,” and “Mosè in Egitto.”

She sang six Bellini roles and was also a renowned Mozartian, interpreting roles in five of Mozart’s most popular works.