Act II Partenope
By Krisztina Laki
Laki makes this recording the first choice for Partenope. Admittedly, it isn’t a crowded field. There are probably only two recordings still in the catalogue, with just another two or three older releases long since deleted.
This is glorious Handel singing. Laki (born 1944, Hungary) was not a big star, confining herself mainly to the stage in Germany but on the evidence here that’s a big loss to the recorded Handel discography. Check out that vibrato! – very narrow, very subtle, beautifully tasteful & perfect for Baroque opera. Her chief competition on disc features Rosemary Joshua who’s ill-disciplined warblings caused me physical pain after the dignity, elegance and restraint of Laki’s gorgeous singing.
She knows what to do with the da capo section, too; gorgeously ornamenting the written line, rather than rewriting it in an attempt to showcase her viruosity. As so many Handel hacks seem to do. This is a very classy singer who understands her material and puts it, not herself, front and centre.
The tessitura is quite low, for a coloratura soprano, but it spills effortlessly from Laki. Purity of tone, pitch-perfection, but with plenty of restrained power behind the notes, this is the most beautiful seven minutes you will experience today. You’re welcome.