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This 1994 release by French soprano Natalie Dessay, just hitting the very top of her game, has been a favorite among aficionados of Mozart's vocal music, and its reissue in Virgin Classics' budget line gives other listeners a chance to try it out. Several of these pieces are in Queen of the Night territory, with not just individual high notes but lengthy passages that require the singer to be melodic at the very top of her range.
Dessay was quickly approached by a number of theatres and subsequently sang Blonde in Die Entführung aus dem Serail, Madame Herz in Der Schauspieldirektor, Zerbinetta in Ariadne auf Naxos and Zaide at the Opéra National de Lyon and the Opéra Bastille, as well as Adele in Die Fledermaus at Grand Théâtre de Genève.
In April and May 1992 at the Opéra Bastille, she sang the role of Olympia in The Tales of Hoffmann with José van Dam.
Dessay not only hits the multiple examples of the E two octaves plus above middle C, she sounds good doing so, and she makes real music as the tune bounces around a few steps below that.
For sheer agility in the top register, it's hard to beat.
Since 2016 she has been recording under Sony Classical Records.
Born as Nathalie Dessaix in Lyon, she dropped the silent "h" in her first name in honor of Natalie Wood when she was in grade school and subsequently simplified the spelling of her surname.
She received wide acclaim in roles such as Olympia in Les contes d'Hoffmann, the title role in Lakmé, Zerbinetta in Ariadne auf Naxos and the Queen of the Night in Die Zauberflöte.
In her later career, she took on roles in the 19-century bel canto repertoire such as Amina in La sonnambula, Lucia in Lucia di Lammermoor, Violetta in La traviata and performed baroque music by composers such as Handel and Bach.
After years on the opera stage, where her stunning lyric coloratura soprano voice and her incredible ability as an actress have enchanted audiences, the soprano Natalie Dessay said goodbye to opera in 2013 and turned her attention to acting and song.
She continues to appear in recitals, particularly with the pianist Philipe Cassard, whose passion for singing has made him one of the most sought-after accompanists.