An attractive album of Puccini arias from Kiri Te Kanawa; the recording is from 1996, made with Kent Nagano conducting The Orchestre De L`Opera National De Lyon.
The selection has been fairly well-chosen; plenty of crowd-pleasers ("Vissi d`arte", "Un bel di vedremo", "O mio babbino caro" etc.) and a few tracks that are less-frequently heard; there isn't really anything to complain about here. Te Kanawa sings with beauty, grace and drama throughout; the voice is perhaps a little strained in places, but really it's churlish to be over-critical - the pleasures of this album far outweigh any minor quibbles. The only somewhat objectionable point is the inclusion of the entirely orchestral Intermezzo from act two of Madama Butterfly which constitutes the whole of track 11 - 7 ½ minutes without Kiri! But it is a very beautiful piece of music. Nevertheless, this is a sumptuous recording featuring one of the best-loved voices in the business and Te Kanawa delivers a fine performance overall. The redoubtable Roger Vignoles pops in to provide the piano accompaniment for three Puccini songs - the title track "Sole e amore", "Canto d`anime" and "Morire". Full Italian texts are provided together with German, French and English translations. The CD has a running time of just over 63 mins.