The American soprano Jenufa Gleich has recorded a CD with arias and songs by Richard Wagner. And they are the ones closest to the bel canto profession in which she was trained. Accompanied by the BBC National Orchestra of Wales, conducted by Fabrice Bollon, she here presents her calling card; the result is a beautiful album.
Not entirely unexpectedly, she opens with a great aria from Wagner’s first opera, Die Feen. In many ways, this work is an embryonic Wagner, a recognisable prelude to his later work, much more than Das Liebesverbot and Rienzi. But the composer made the same high demands on his protagonists that would characterise his later works. The prima donna in Die Feen, the fairy queen Ada, needs to be a dramatic soprano of the calibre of a Brünnhilde.
This has not stopped Gleich from including the very long ‘Weh’mir, so nah’ die fürchterliche Stunde’ in her programme and the result is astonishing. I have not often had the opportunity to listen to this spectacular piece; twice in the theatre and only once on CD, but her apparent ease and certainty in the difficult passages with often very high altitude, suggest that this soprano certainly does not have to shy away from parts like Brünnhild