The timbre of the voice is sensationally beautiful - smooth textured with a gorgeous vibrato that can be removed or added to at will, a limpid legato and great dynamic control, excellent intonation and the sound even and well integrated across all registers from a very strong chest register to a gleaming top. She has a remarkable technique, supporting the voice in a three octave plus range - I have never heard Olympia's top notes so shiningly or solidly projected. Maybe the finest track on the disc is Vitellia's aria "Non Più Di Fiori" from La Clemenza di Tito which is ravishingly sung, and the low notes are wonderful to hear with a mezzo's chest register. "Der Hölle Rache" also benefits from the mezzo timbre in the lower portions, and sounds genuinely furious for once. The top F isn't exactly in tune the first time it comes, but she nails it the second time, and once again, the ringing vibrato up there is so satisfying to hear. The fact that there are these occasional very slightly flat notes shows that the recording has not been messed around with in terms of correcting the tuning digitally - something which is absolutely rife in some more famous singers CD recitals - and from live performances on youtube we already know that her intonation is generally faultless.
Neither do we get cookie cutter performances - in all of these very famous arias we get original choices, some risk taking, and characterful, interesting interpretations. So in Bellini's sometimes all too familiar "Casta Diva", here gorgeously sung, the phrases for once feel new and unexpected even although she is doing nothing radical, and in the Carmen arias we get some beautiful colouring of the line and interpolated notes. The only thing that I don't love is the aspirated coloratura and occasional lapses in pronunciation (especially in the sole German number here). But this seems cavilling when there is so much to enjoy.
As a lovely bonus we get two duets with Anne Sophie von Otter - the Barcarolle from Les Contes D'Hoffman and the Flower Duet from Delibes' Lakme. More beautiful renditions of these bonbons are difficult to imagine.
Here's "Non Piu Di Fiori", the aria from La Clemenza di Tito. Check out the superb chest register from 3:20, and the beautiful soprano like top at 4:30.
This Glyndebourne Fledermaus reveals already early in her career an eerie talent for physical and vocal characterisation, as well as a lack of vanity and sense of fun. The extremity of the musical choices I think are entirely fitting for this character, but are also not representative of the singing on the above CD.
I have also ordered her Dido and Aeneas with Christopher Maltman and judging from this clip I am in for a treat. Comparing the voice here and in the present recording, it seems she pares down the voice significantly for the baroque repertoire.
Can we get her at the ROH very soon please?