LESLIE JONES reviews a recital in celebration of the National Day of Romania, December 1st: the Romanian Cultural Institute, 5th December 2013, Anita Hartig, soprano, Mats Knutsson, piano
Musically, Romania has consistently punched above its weight, as evidenced by the disproportionate number of top sopranos that it has produced over the years. Names like Cotrubaş, Gheorghiu, Văduva and Zeani, spring to mind. Anita Hartig, a member of the Vienna State Opera, once again confirms this rule. Her voice, warm but powerful belies her somewhat slender figure and is reminiscent of the late Elizabeth Schwarzkopf (an earlier stalwart of the Vienna State Opera). She evidently has all the attributes to make a brilliant career: stage presence in abundance, the ability to sing opera in several different languages and (dare we say it) ravishing beauty.
Judging from this performance she is quite at ease across the repertoire – in Mozart (Le nozze di Figaro, Dove sono, Aria Contessa act. 3), in Richard Strauss (Lieder, Heimliche Aufforderung, Breit über mein Haupt dein schwarzes Haar) but also in the warhorses of the Italian and French operatic repertoire such as Puccini’s La Bohème (Donde lieta, aria Mimi act. 3) and Gounod’s Faust (Air des bijoux, aria Marguerite act. 3).
How did the Romanian Cultural Institute manage to land such a sought after performer? The answer is perhaps provided by the material with which she concluded her recital, to wit, some evocative and affecting songs from her native country. In other words, she has an unbreakable emotional tie to her homeland and her community.
Leslie Jones, December 2013
Leslie Jones is the Deputy Editor of Quarterly Review