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Mina (Italian Singer): Sulla Tua Bocca lo Diro'

Album Notes

Italy's foremost, and most reclusive, diva Mina has long been an untouchable legend in her native country. Her iconic status translated into the most absolute creative emancipation -- some would even say isolation. Ever since she abandoned live appearances in 1978, she has been continuously releasing scores of albums of covers, duets, or new originals written especially for her; in sum, whatever struck her fancy at any particular time. Her 2009 pet project, Sulla Tua Bocca Lo Dirò, is one of her most ambitious yet. For the first time, Mina decided to take on the world of opera and melodrama, the most holy of vocal traditions in Italian culture. Predictably, the results are immaculately tasteful at the level of performance and arrangements, as it is always the case with Mina and her trusted collaborators (in this case conductor Gianni Ferrio). At the same time, the entire aesthetic bent of this project seems a bit odd. There can be no argument about Mina's interpretive prowess, but the fact remains that she is not a classically trained singer and, perhaps most important, that her voice is pushing 70. Of course Mina is far too classy to ever sound strained: she is always in control, but she also carefully refrains from the high mannerisms typical of opera singing. This gives the album a rather morose, melancholic tone, as opposed to melodramatic -- quite unexpected for a set made up mostly of Puccini's arias. The mood does not change substantially when Mina switches from the Italian opera tradition to a few selections by Gershwin, Bernstein, and Piazzolla (plus a forgettable ghost track of the Mexican traditional "Cielito Lindo"). With the possible exception of the transformation of Albinoni's "Adagio" into a vocal piece set to a text by Giorgio Calabrese, listeners familiar with the standard way of performing this repertoire may find Sulla Tua Bocca Lo Dirò an interesting curio, rather than an exciting or revelatory reinterpretation. Fans of the singer may openly gloat with pride at Mina's unabated display of ambition and talent, but secretly they may pine for the fun of her lighter material. ~ Mariano Prunes



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