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Domingo Sings Caruso
Plácido Domingo (tenor); abLondon Symphony Orchestra/aNello Santi, bErich Leinsdorf; cLondon Philharmonic Orchestra/Georg Solti; dNew Philharmonia Orchestra/Nello Santi; eRoyal Philharmonic Orchestra/Edward Downes.
Texts and translations included. No rec. info. provided.
RCA RED SEAL 82876 59407 2 [68’55]

Ruggero LEONCAVALLO (1857-1919)

La bohème (1897) – Musette! O gioia della mia dimora … Testa adorataa [3’33]. Pagliacci (1907) – Recitar! … Vesti la giubbaa [4’12].

Gaetano DONIZETTI (1797-1848)

L’elisir d’amorea (1832) – Una furtia lagrimaa [4’59].

Jules MASSENET (1842-1912)

Manon (1884) – Le suis seul! … Ah! Fuyez douce imagea [4’56]. Le Cid (1885) – Ah! Tout est bien fini! … O souverain, ô juge, ô Pèrea [5’10].

Francesco CILEA (1866-1950)

L’arlesiana (1897) – E la solita storiaa [4’49].

Friedrich von FLOTOW (1812-1883)

Martha (1847) – M’apparia [3’48].

Giacomo PUCCINI (1858-1924)

La fanciulla del West (1910) – Ch’ella mi creda liberoa [2’30]. La bohème (1896) – Che gelida maninac [4’43].

Giuseppe VERDI (1813-1901)

Rigoletto (1851) – La donna è mobilea [2’26]. Aida (1871) – Se quel guerrier io fossi … Celeste Aidab. [4’30].

Giacomo MEYERBEER (1791-1864)

L’africana (1865) – Mi batte il cor … O Paradiso … Deh! Ch’io ritornia [7’44].

Charles GOUNOD (1818-1893)

Faust (1859) – Quel trouble inconnu .. Salut! Demeure chaste et pured [5’40].

Jacques Fromental HALÉVY (1799-1862)

La Juive (1835) – Rachel, quand du Seigneure [6’09].

Pietro MASCAGNI (1863-1945)

Cavalleria rusticana (1890) – Brindisi: Intanto, amici, qua … Viva il vino spumeggianted [3’02].

Domingo compilations have been guaranteed earners for record companies for a long time now. This RCA Classic Library re-release has previously been available on RCA Victor 9026613562. It shows Domingo on home ground, under the guise of presenting a tribute to Caruso. All the Domingo trade-marks are there. The instantly recognisable golden voice and the peerless legato are present in abundance. But Domingo was always an intelligent interpreter too, not just surface glitter or seduction, and much of this comes across, even in small excerpts such as these.

The actual selection is well chosen. Leoncavallo comes in the form of his (the other) La bohème. This is magnificent, vintage Domingo.

‘Una furtuiva lagrima’, (Donizetti) however is pure Domingo in the other, wrong sense. Pure Domingo and not too much Donizetti ... it is all to narcissistic. No doubting the fact that Domingo enjoyed singing this hugely (and actually it is very difficult not to enjoy hearing it), but the basic and important caveat remains. In the end, no matter what the felicities and niceties of Domingo’s singing, it all sounds like him, with very little of Domingo the chameleon.

Nevertheless there is no doubting his affinity with Puccini (in the heart-rending cry from the gallows in La fanciulla del West or in the famous ‘Che gelida manina’ from La La bohème).

Maybe the highpoint is the Cilea (‘Lamento di Frederico’), with its luxurious orchestral introduction, like a cushion of sound over which Domingo can spin his golden sound. And all credit to RCA for not foisting ‘Celeste Aida’ on us too soon (it is track eleven).

There is much to charm here, of that there is no doubt. Some elements may detract (a spot-lit solo violin in the Gounod, for example), but if a good dollop of Domingo in music he evidently loves is what you’re after, you won’t go far wrong with this. A tenner (which is what it seems to be priced around) does seem a bit on the steep side, though.

Colin Clarke


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