The Kiss

Nicole Car

The Kiss
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The Kiss

Nicole Car

Brilliant young Australian soprano Nicole Car unveils her debut album: The Kiss.

Nicole is one of the brightest stars on the international opera scene. In October 2015 she made a sensational debut at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden to unanimous critical acclaim, singing Micaela in Carmen; in December 2015 she returned to Covent Garden in the lead role in Eugene Onegin opposite Dmitri Hvorostovsky. Nicole has been known to Australian audiences for several years through her major roles for Opera Australia; and she has already won the 2013 Neue Stimmen competition (Germany) and received nominations in the International Opera Awards and for several Helpmann Awards (Australia).

The Kiss surveys the arias that have made Nicole’s name: nineteenth-century gems, well known and neglected, that showcase the outstanding beauty, unforced lyricism and compelling passion of her voice. At the heart of the disc stands the ‘Letter Scene' from Eugene Onegin - Nicole’s performances of which have astounded audiences across the world. Her passion for Russian repertoire continues with music by Rimsky-Korsakov.

A gorgeous and rarely recorded lullaby by Smetana from the opera Hubička (The Kiss) gives the album its name, and the themes of intimacy and love throughout the recording. From Rusalka asking the silver moon to shine on her beloved prince to Amelia in Simon Boccanegra awaiting her lover, and from Servilia lamenting her fate torn between love and duty to Gounod’s Marguerite trembling with excitement as she sees herself in new-found jewels - this is an album of beguiling, passionate gems sung by one of the finest voices of today.

Review

I first heard soprano Nicole Car ten years ago at a master class in Melbourne. Her voice was beautiful. The conductor turned to the audience and said, ‘Melbourne sure knows how to produce a good singer!’ And he was right. Car, unlike many young Australian singers today, trained almost exclusively in Melbourne. She eschewed the well-worn path of study at a UK conservatoire and subsequent participation in a European young artist program, and yet she is blessed with a glorious voice and a budding stellar international career. Last year, Car made her debut at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, singing Tatyana in Eugene Onegin. And this is the music she presents on her debut album, The Kiss. Another anomaly: rather than a recital disc or a collection of obscure orchestral songs, Car has aimed right for the heart of the lyric-soprano repertoire, and, in doing so, has pitted herself against the greatest singers today and of the last fifty years.

Alongside Slavic arias, Car sings such favourites as Mimi’s ‘Si, mi chiamano Mimi’ from La Bohème – a role she recently performed with Opera Australia. How does Car compare? Not only does she hold her own against the competition, she sings with intelligence and individuality. Her voice is smooth and full, and, on the higher notes – such as the climactic B flat at the end of Dvorák’s ‘Song to the Moon’ – the sound freely unfolds and blossoms. It’s sumptuous and lovely and deserves repeat listenings. My personal favourite, however, is the opening ‘Jewel Song’ from Faust. Car exuberantly portrays the young Marguerite, enchanted by her own beauty, while maintaining metronomic and tonal accuracy. Car’s voice really is uncommonly beautiful, and I wonder what the next ten years will hold for her.


Alexandra Mathew is from Readings Carlton.

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