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Every day we post 10 new Classical CD and DVD reviews. A free weekly summary is available by e-mail. MusicWeb is not a subscription site. To keep it free please purchase discs through our links.

  Classical Editor Rob Barnett    


DOMINGO - THE VERDI TENOR
Arias from:
Rigoletto, Aida, Il Trovatore, Un ballo in maschera, Alzira, Ernani, Luisa Miller, Otello, I due foscari, Macbeth, Don Carlos, La Traviata
Conductors: Giulini, Abbado, Gergiev, Maazel, Chung, Kleiber
Recorded at various venues between 1976-2000
DEUTSCHE GRAMMOPHON 471 478-2 [59’33"]

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Apart from a couple of small bites at the Verdi cherry in 1959-1961 (aged 18-20) Domingo wisely held back from singing Verdi until his voice had filled out and matured. This was in 1967 when he took the European opera capitals Hamburg, Vienna and Berlin by storm with Aida, Don Carlo and Un Ballo in maschera, all debut appearances in the leading tenor roles within a three-week period in May that year, the last named opera being learned in three days when he was asked to replace another tenor. For much of the remaining years of the twentieth century he was adding new roles to his Verdi repertoire, the last of them in London in La battaglia di Legnano in June 2000. Domingo’s admirers will have already calculated that to date he has given some 650 performances of 14 different Verdi operas (and there are four he has never sung on stage but has recorded - Nabucco, I Lombardi, Giovanna d’Arco and Macbeth).

In contrast to his most serious rival, Pavarotti, Domingo is a wonderful actor as well as singer, bringing an intense musicality and intelligence to his performances, and this is clear throughout this compilation disc (there’s a 4CD box Verdi: Domingo - The Tenor Arias 471 335-2 if you want even more). The selection here has variety in its hour-long format, with only one opera, Rigoletto, having more than one aria. With Giulini at the helm tempi are steadily taken but very effectively so, bringing a majestic grandeur to Domingo’s vocal lustre. The arias from the early or middle Verdi periods may not be quite so ear-catching or muscular as the ‘Esultate’ from Otello (a pity it’s not Carlos Kleiber conducting here as he did with Domingo at Covent Garden, for Myung Wha Chung has problems holding ensemble especially with the following chorus), ‘Di quella pira’ from Il Trovatore, or ‘La donna e mobile’ from Rigoletto, but nevertheless they are delivered with the same degree of intensity and vocal style. For that is above all Domingo’s greatest strength, his stylish artistry

Christopher Fifield


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