She is the most famous bel canto soprano in the world today. And at an age when most singers are giving their farewell performances from the stage, she tackles new roles and continues to electrify her audiences with her crystal-clear cascades of musical pearls.
At the age of 59, she debuted in one of the most demanding roles of opera literature, as Norma in Bellini's opera of the same name; now that she has passed sixty, she has mastered another new part, the lead role in Donizetti's Lucrezia Borgia, which she premiered in Barcelona in 2008. The film accompanies the soprano for a year and a half during her preparation for the premiere, and narrates in flashbacks the most important stages of her nearly 40-year-long stage career, from her native Bratislava to Vienna, Munich and Zurich. Edita Gruberova turned the bel canto style – as exemplified primarily by the early 19th-century operas of Bellini and Donizetti – into her own, unmistakable specialty.
But what is the nature of bel canto? What is the secret of her vocal gift? These are a couple of the questions the film addresses. In addition to rehearsal excerpts from Lucrezia Borgia, the film shows Gruberova in the title role of Norma and as Elisabetta in Roberto Devereux. Archival recordings allow us to admire her in Rigoletto with Luciano Pavarotti, the legendary Ariadne auf Naxos under Karl Böhm, and Jean-Pierre Ponnelle's film adaptation of Così fan tutte under Nikolaus Harnoncourt. Interviews with important fellow artists and companions such as Harnoncourt, Brigitte Fassbaender and Elina Garanca round off this mesmerizing portrait.
Orchestre de l'ORTF, Georges Prêtre - Orchestre de l'Opéra de Paris, Georges Sébastian