Krassimira Stoyanova opened her mouth to sing and the most extraordinarily rounded, warm, yet potent sound filled La Scala’s auditorium. She has a rare technique which recalls the grandeur of singers of the past that most of us have heard only in recordings. Her large sound is easily brought down to pianissmo, and the contrasts in tone and volume, her intelligent phrasing, and the intensity of communication (notwithstanding the music stand) were winning.
In her opening Schubert section was his Ave Maria, formally known as Ellens Gesang (“Ellen’s Song”) III and derived from Walter Scott’s poem The Lady of the Lake. A song which can be boringly monotonous was engrossingly imaginative in her hands with each new repetition of ‘Ave Maria’ being framed in a fresh way.
Strauss’ Ich schwebe showed Stoyanova’s ability to give a Leid the lightest touch, contrasting with her terrifying attack to The Field Marshal in Mussorgsky’s Songs and Dances of Death which closed the programme – her easy yet powerful lower notes and her startlingly loud and muscular top range were commanding and impressive.
Her stage presence is unusual. She does nothing to win over the audience except sing: overenthusiastic clappers during a song group were signalled to with a wagging finger that it was not appropriate, and bows were swift and economical. Maybe it is this detachment – recalling Mariella Devia and Mirella Freni – which has kept her voice totally in her control even in her 57th year. Her voice does it all – and how.