Soprano Diana Damrau usually sticks with her forte of mainstream opera. Indeed, she's made her name in such demanding roles as Mozart's Queen of the Night, Strauss' Zerbinetta, Donizetti's Lucia di Lammermoor and Verdi's Violetta. But not long ago, she had this itch that needed scratching. And scratch she did, to excellent result.
The Bavarian-born Ms. Damrau decided to record an album of, "Unforgettable Favorites from Vienna, Broadway and Hollywood." That's the subtitle to the Warner Bros/Erato CD, Forever. She says, "This music shows a side of me that many people don't know yet. Every life has its own soundtrack and these are numbers that have had an impact on my life, and no doubt on other people's lives too. I have tried to gather together my own memories and the collective memories of my generation. I'm a child of my time...and I'd also like to show the world that opera singers are not confined to one genre."
"My first role as a contract singer at the theatre was Eliza Doolittle in My Fair Lady... [it] taught me the importance of recitative; of being able to sing loudly so that you can then sing softly, and of the way an aria must grow from the drama. This album might looks like ‘light music’ but I think that’s a meaningless expression. Of course the melodies are catchy and touch our feelings very directly – but for me, that’s great art."
Her young sons, Alexander and Colyn, were her willing audience for these songs long before Ms. Damrau recorded them for posterity as well. "I've been able to tell that they like them too, that the music is timeless and not tied to any particular generation," she says. "These tunes are great art, because they are associated with unforgettable moments in everyone's lives."
Forever includes great music from Die Fledermaus, The Merry Widow, My Fair Lady, West Side Story, The Phantom of the Opera, Sweeney Todd, South Pacific, The Wizard of Oz, Mary Poppins, The Snowman, The Little Mermaid and more.
Crossover, with Jill Pasternak, airs Saturday morning at 11:30 am on WRTI-FM, with an encore Friday evening at 7 pm on WRTI HD-2. Both airings are available on the All-Classical stream at wrti.org.