COMMANDOpera is advising global readers to pay close attention. A soprano is preparing to assume the mantle Donizetti’s Queen Antonina in Belisario which has been unequivocally been owned up to this day by the famed Turkish soprano Leyla Gencer. No soprano has managed to equal Miss Gencers sensationally breath-taking performances in the role (two live audio performances exist). However, in the opinion of COMMANDOpera the Gencer portrayal is shortly to know a serious challenge in the form of Lebanese Canadian soprano Joyce El-Khoury. The one off performance of Belisario on October 28th, will take place at the Barbican in London with the BBC Symphony Orchestra under the baton of Sir Mark Elder. A formal studio recording of the work is scheduled to take place a few days before the historic event.
COMMANDOpera has recently heard Miss El-Khoury and feels compelled to note this is no ordinary soprano vocally. Is there something from the eastern Mediterranean region which adds a lustrous unique and instantly recognizable timbre to the vocal instruments of sopranos? Callas, Gencer, Dimitrova, to name the most important. Miss El-Khoury’s voice at full volume equals Miss Dimitrova, soaring above the steepest orchestrations without issue. Yet there is that same sensuality in her pianissimo which we also knew to be resident within the Bulgarian soprano. Further, Miss El-Khoury is capable of the most phenomenal range of pyrotechnics given her extraordinarily secure technique: this is not a girl who worries about such matters when she walks onstage for she has done her home work. Clearly, Miss El-Khoury is in a class of her own as there are very few of this calibre today working within her vocal range.
This venue has been in contact with the artist who is currently in Munich for appearances of Mimi, to arrange a formal interview to discuss this Belisario.
Miss Gencer essays the final air from Belisario ‘Egli e spento’.