(Note - this post originally appeared on the AudioAsylum site on 2013 12 23 - it has been updated for this Amazon post)
Diana Damrau, as far as I can tell, has gotten a lot of good press. I haven't heard that much of her singing, but I've been far from dazzled with what I have heard (although I do give her full marks for attempting the complete Brentano Lieder, Op. 68, on her Strauss album with Thielemann - just impossible for just one singer to do justice to the wildly divergent demands of the songs in that set!).
Anyway, to the recording at hand, these performances fit perfectly in my graveyard of opera singers who think they can tackle the American pop and/or jazz idiom. These interpretations sound like an unholy alliance of Elizabeth Schwarzkopf (God rest her soul!) and Ute Lemper! I mean, this woman just cannot leave stuff alone - she's always got to be interpreting, coloring, nuancing. Just sing the notes, lady!
She evidently considers herself some kind of operatic Meryl Streep too, because she's not satisfied just to sing "I feel pretty", but she has to go for the Puerto Rican accent too. Big mistake! I kept trying to figure out why she was singing, "I feel chumming", and it wasn't until the third or fourth repetition that I realized she was trying to sing the word, "CHARMING". Give me a break!
The fetching naïveté and innocence required for "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" is replaced by Damrau's all-too-knowing fracturing of the line into dozens of little "look at what I can do with this word!" interpretive points and over-enunciations (although I admit that over-enunciation is sometimes considered part of the Broadway style - but this isn't a Broadway song).
My wife also mentioned that there's an outsized/oversized rawness to her approach that further undermines the simplicity of so many of the songs on this album. In addition, she was certainly ill-advised to conclude her rendition of "Wouldn't It be Loverly" (auf deutsch BTW, where "loverly" becomes German dialect "wundascheen", etc.) with a little squeal that, for me, ranks high among wince-inducing moments on recording.
Adding to the disaster of it all, this album was not available on Spotify for me to preview, so I had to download it. I figured, what the heck, I'll download the hi-rez 24/96 version from another site. That was a big mistake - or at least a $25 mistake - given the performances. If you're interested, there are signals that go above the 40kHz range, but there are also some noise bands and some uncorrelated noise up in the frequencies at 20kHz and above. (BTW, my wife just found out about the cost of the download, and exclaimed, "You didn't!! - $25 is a lot of money!")
To sum up, this album has value (for me anyway) only as a party record (not even, says my wife!), or as a "don't let this happen to you" cautionary tale for singers!