Polish soprano Iwona Sobotka stole the show as Vespina. Her gorgeous, flawless and versatile voice and stage presence made for an effortless performance. She's got a huge, blinding, solid middle voice that flips into the most delicate and elegant coloratura, wholly light and tranquil, never forced. Her first act aria "Come piglia si bene la mira" was so natural and unaffected, and she sliped into a pure workspace that the other soloists couldn't even touch. Her recitative was weightless and airy. She easily morphed into her six separate characters and owned each one individually without ever a sense of overbearing.
Sobotka is relatively young but she is perfectly at ease negotiating the composer’s tricky turns of phrase and intonation. Her pure, clean tones elide the trills and melisma with elegant grace. When she sings lines like “mi go zal” (ist mir so leid) , unaccompanied and alone, she breathes an earthy personality into the words, enhancing their meaning, even if you don’t understand a word of Polish. She has recorded the complete Szymanowski songs with the superlative young tenor, Piotr Beczala and others, so she, too, has a claim to being immersed in the composer’s idiom. Indeed, in the second song, Slowik (Nightingale), she creates a truly mysterious atmosphere, turning the elaborate vocalise into an almost abstract meditation.
A sumptuous voice, a poetic and passionate singer. (…) Thanks to a stunning maturity in her approach of the texts and a very accomplished technique that allows her to reach the finest nuances. (…) However this artist, who seems destined for the lyrical stage possesses also the profoundness and thought that make her a lied singer both sensitive and engaging. (…) Her voice is of metal both pure and concentrated. She showed her strong vocal stability that predict a beautiful career ahead. She has a theatrical sense and draws the personalities of her characters with vigour and generosity.
Ça ne s'invente pas: en polonais, Sobotka signifie... petit samedi. Pour Iwona Sobotka, toutefois, le 15 mai d n'aura rien eu d'un petit samedi: c'est au contraire un grand jour même si, rencontrée le lendemain, la soprano polonaise n'avait absolument pas attrapé la grosse tête.