Rossini's 'Bel raggio lusinghier'
In Rossini's opera Semiramide, we find the gorgeous aria 'Bel raggio lusinghier' - complete with a beautiful array of twists, turns, and a lot of fast notes; this aria provides an ample testing ground for any soprano or mezzo soprano. Isabella Colbran (pictured left and center) created the role of Semiramide, and sang in the Venice premiere in 1823. See below Joséphine Fodor pictured on the right as Semiramide.
In my experience studying this aria, this gem has been and continues to be an act of balancing the voice throughout the rapid roulades that are interspersed with moments of respite, while simultaneously navigating the chest and head registers, rocking back and forth between dramatic vocal input and languid moments, punctuated by some high notes and delicate staccati. It has felt like the meeting of two sounds: power and charm. In reality, it has become the art of switching back and forth between the two, yet all the while playing with varying degrees of power and charm as dictated by the music, or - my response to the music in any given moment.
Here is my recent rendition of 'Bel raggio lusinghier'.