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Alfie Boe (tenor)
Matteo Saggese (piano)
Chris Cameron (piano)
Stephanie Gonley (violin)
Mauro Di Domenico (guitars, bouzouki)
Alfonso Deidda (Woodwinds, soprano saxophone)
John Parricelli (mandolin)
Nigel Hopkins (accordion)
The Metro Voices
Royal Philharmonic Orchestra/Valeriano Chiaravalle
rec. Angel Studios, London, 2007
EMI CLASSICS 5044112 [49.08]
years ago I attended a performance of Britten’s Albert Herring at
Glyndebourne where the title role was sung by a very talented
and very winning young tenor, Alfred Boe. He joined the young
artists programme at the Royal Opera House, but also received
the call to join the cast of Baz Luhrman’s La Bohème on
Broadway. Boe took the latter course and in due course the Alfie
Boe phenomenon was borne. This new disc, entitled La Passione,
is intended ‘to reach a wider audience with classical music
and to show that you don’t’ have to be a musical genius to enjoy
before we actually discuss the performances on this disc, perhaps
we should consider why a tenor from Fleetwood in Lancashire
is recording Neapolitan popular songs at all?
Fred Gaisberg first recorded Neapolitan tenor Enrico Caruso,
he discovered a singer whose voice was entirely suited to the
new gramophone recording process and a phenomenon was born.
Caruso was the first recording sensation, a singer who was made
by the gramophone but whose singing helped make the gramophone
popular. Like all singers of the period, Caruso had a repertoire
of popular songs; light music for want of a better word. English
singers recorded many, many English folk songs and parlour ballads.
Caruso recorded the Neapolitan equivalent. But creation of the
Caruso phenomenon has meant that Neapolitan popular song is
required material for any operatic tenor worth his salt, even
English lyric tenors from Fleetwood. An interesting side point
here is that when Caruso recorded this repertoire the composers
were alive - they were his contemporaries.
make no mistake, Boe is still an operatic tenor. He might be
attempting to corner the market in operatic populism, but he
still appears on the operatic stage - he is doing The Merry
Widow with ENO later this year - and still does recitals
of operatic arias with ensembles like the Philharmonia Orchestra.
disc casts its net relatively widely. In addition to well known
Neapolitan songs Boe includes Leoncavallo’s Mattinata and Caruso by
the contemporary Italian film composer Lucia Dalla. But the
composers are only listed at the back in tiny script and there
are no texts. You are encouraged to feel the passion and not
worry too much about details.
the opening of the first song, it is apparent that Boe has the
manner down to a tee. His Italian sounds credible and his diction
is excellent; he doesn’t sound like an Englishman singing Italian
which is greatly to his credit. He is also something of a vocal
actor as he has incorporated a number of the required tenorino
mannerisms into his style. The results are moderately convincing
and, at first, rather charming.
sings the songs musically and with some care, in fact with too
much care really. There are moments when you wish he would let
go a little more. Unfortunately he seems to feel that the place
to let go is on the high notes. Boe has an attractive lyric
tenor voice, the closest that I can come to is Barry Banks,
a tenor who specialises in the early 19th century
repertoire. Both have silvery lyric voices which have a rather
English cast to them. When Boe opens up on his top notes his
silvery voice turns a little hard and no amount of Italian mannerism
can make up for the fact that he lacks the Italianate darkness
and depth that is needed for this type of song.
the songs in the first half of this recital I came away feeling
that Boe was trying far too hard to be something that he was
not. Instead of taking Pavarotti as his model he should be using
Heddle Nash. But in the second half of the disc we get rather
fewer moments where Boe opens the throttle on his top register
and keeps things at a lower temperature. The results are quite
appealing and show what a fine musician he can be.
I tired of his aping of the Italian manner. After 15 songs I
still felt that he was buttonholing me and forcing me to notice
how clever he was.
said, this disc is well performed, well produced and Boe is
ably supported by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra under Valeriano
somebody buys this for their aunt or a cousin who has been caught
up in the EMI/Alfie Boe marketing machine then they will certainly
not damage their health and they might enjoy it and even consider
going to hear Boe singing some real opera or operetta. Which,
of course, is the intention behind the disc … isn’t it?
Lucio DALLA (b.1943?)
Ernesto DE CURTIS (1875–1937)/Giovanni
Battista DE CURTIS (1860–1926)
Torna a Surriento
Luigi DENZA (1846–1922)/Giuseppe
TURCO (1846–1907) (arr. Matteo Saggese)
Gabriele D’ANNUNZIO (1863–1938)/Francesco
Paolo TOSTI (1846–1916)
Eduardo de CAPUA (1865–1917)/Giovanni
O Sole Mio
Vincenzo VALENTE (1855–1921), Ernesto
TAGLIAFERRI (1889–1937)/Libero BOVIO (1883–1942)
Agustin LARA (1900–1970)
Cesare Andrea BIXIO (1898–1978)/Ennio
Parlami D'Amore Mariù
Salvatore di GIACOMO (1860–1934)/Francesco
Paolo TOSTI (1846–1916) (arr. Matteo Saggese)
Teodoro COTTRAU (1827–1879) (arr.
Eldo di LAZARRO (1902–1968)
Eduardo di CAPUA (1865–1917)/Vincenzo
RUSSO (1876–1904) (arr. Matteo Saggese)
Alberto BARBERIS, Michael
Munasterio' E Santa Chiara
Ruggiero LEONCAVALLO (1858–1919) (arr.
Traditional (arr. Giancarlo Chiaramello)
Feneste Che Lucive
Gerard Hoffnung CDs
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