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Faure songs
Charlotte de Rothschild (soprano);

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Marcello GIORDANI - Tenor Arias
Gioachino ROSSINI (1792-1868)

Guillaume Tell, ‘Asile héréditare’
Gaetano DONIZETTI (1797-1868)

La fille du regiment, ‘Ah! mes amis, quel jour du fête!’
La Favorite, ‘Un ange, une femme inconnue’
Vincenzo BELLINI (1801-1835)
Il pirata, ‘Nel furor delle tempeste’ (with Giovanni Guagliardo, bar.); ‘Per ti di vane lagrime’
Giovanni PACCINI (1796-1867)

La Fidinzata córsa, ‘Son giunto!’
Georges BIZET (1838-1870)

Carmen, ‘La fleur que tu m’avais jetée’
Giuseppe VERDI (1813-1901)

I Lombardi alla prima crociata, ‘La mia letizia infondere’
Luisa Miller,
‘Quando le sere al placido’
Il Trovatore, ‘Ah si, ben mio’; ‘Di quella pira’
Pietro MASCAGNI (1863-1945)

Cavalleria rusticana, ‘Mamma! Quell vino e generoso’ (with Maria Arghiracopulos, mezzo)
Orchestra and Chorus of the Bellini Theatre, Catania/Steven Mercurio
Recorded at the Massino V. Bellini Theatre, Catania, 10th –16th December 2001
NAXOS 8.557269 [58.29]



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Even in a period of a dearth of tenors Marcello Giordani’s rise from professional debut in 1986 to La Scala two years later, was meteoric. He has gone on to appear, and be in regular demand, at the world’s leading opera houses. In this period I only caught up with him via a couple of radio broadcasts until his premiere studio recording as Gaston in the Philips 1998 recording of Verdi’s ‘Jerusalem’. This was the composer’s re-write of ‘I Lombardi’ done for his first shot at the honey-pot that was the Paris opera scene in the 1840s. The recording was issued in Autumn 2000 and I found Giordani’s fresh lyric tone interesting, if at times unremitting, in a role that lends itself to agonised fortissimos. Of course, his Gaston was sung in French as are a number of the arias featured here. These are the long ‘Asile héréditare’ from Rossini’s final opera (tr. 1), ‘Ah! mes amis, quel jour du fête!’ from Donizetti’s ‘La Fille du régiment’, notorious for its high Cs (tr. 2), Ferrand’s ‘Un ange, une femme inconnue’ by the same composer (tr. 3) and the ‘Flower Song’ from ‘Carmen’ (tr. 8). These are sung in reasonably idiomatic French albeit in a distinctly Italianate style. Giordani’s attack on the high notes is fearless and always in full voice, that is without recourse to head tone. If he had modulated the volume and given greater grace to the phrasing earlier in the Rossini aria, he might not have lost tone on the climactic note. He is equally fearless in tackling the notorious series of high Cs in ‘Ah! mes amis, quel jour du fête!’, but he is uneven in vocal emission and too forceful of tone in between them, and by the time of the final high, at 3:49, his voice evinces an all too evident beat and an unpleasant bleating effect. Nor is his rendering of the first of Gualtiero’s two arias from Bellini’s ‘Il pirata’ (tr. 4) pleasing to my ears. Again a distinct beat is present when the top of the voice is pressured. That being said, Giordani’s singing is distinctly better than Bernabe Marti’s on the only available studio recording of the opera (EMI). Giordani sang the part to Decca’s house soprano Renée Fleming (Imogene) at the Met in 2002. This was broadcast to the UK under the last season of the Texaco sponsorship. In this day and age, I don’t suppose the Texaco would envisage a recording without the less appropriate, but populist, Bocelli in the part. In the more traditional Italian repertoire of Verdi’s ‘I Lombardi’ (tr. 9), ‘Luisa Miller’ (tr. 10) and ‘Il Trovatore (trs. 11-12), Giordani gives a strong enough showing, particularly with some elegant and graceful phrasing at the start of the arias. The downside is his tendency to up the volume and forget the graceful phrasing as the piece proceeds. He does however hit a good top-note at the end of ‘Di quella pira’ (tr. 11).

The recording of the orchestra and chorus is bright, clear and forward, whilst Giordani’s voice is in its own rather more resonant acoustic as seems to be the case with so many operatic recordings these days. The booklet has a good track-related synopsis and prints the words of the arias with an English translation. Despite my criticisms, it is good to have, particularly at Naxos’s price, such an interesting and varied disc devoted to a tenor who is appearing regularly at the world’s foremost opera houses. However, I suggest it is best digested in small ‘snacks’ rather than at one sitting. For those living in the U.K. who wish to hear him live, I see that he is billed to sing Enzo Grimaldi in two concert performances of Ponchielli’s ‘La Gioconda’ at The Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, London, in September 2004.

Robert J Farr



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