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Arias For Rubini
Vincenzo BELLINI (1801-1835)
Il Pirata - Nel furor delle tempeste ... Del disastro di queti infelici ... Per te di vane lagrime [9.30] with Filippo Adami Itulbo; Ugo Guagliardo Goffredo
Bianca e Fernando - Tutti siam? – Si, tutti uniti ... Eccomi alfin, guerrieri ... All’udir del padre afflitto ... Degna suora di Fernando ... Odo il tuo pianto, o padre [14.45]
Gioachino ROSSINI (1792-1868)
Elisabetta, regina d’Inghilterra - Che intesi! ... Deh! troncate i ceppi suoi ... Vendicar sapró l’offesa [12.35]
Il turco in Italia - Intesi: ah! tutto intesi ... Tu seconda il mio disegno ... Si il mio rival deludo! [5.45]
La donna del lago* - Pace non trovo ... Tu sorda ai miei lamenti ... Ah! come nascondere [6.47]
Guglielmo Tell - Non mi lasciare, o speme di vendetta ... O muto asil ... Vendetta! ... Corriam! voliam! [12.42]
Gaetano DONIZETTI (1797-1848)
Marino Faliero - No, no, d’abbandonarla senza un addio ... Di mia patira o bel soggiorno ... Ma un solo conforto [9.43]
Juan Diego Flórez (tenor)
Orchestra e Coro dell’Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia/Roberto Abbado
rec. Sala Santa Cecilia, Auditorium Parco della Musica, Rome, 29 August-10 September 2006, DDD
Sung texts enclosed
World premiere recording of 1825 Paris version.
DECCA 475 9079 [71.41]

Giovanni Battista Rubini (1794-1854) was one of the greatest tenors of all times. He was an Italian who took the tenor’s role to a new dimension, adding dramatics, incredible vocal dexterity and beauty to the various operatic parts in a way that none of his contemporaries was able to match. Rubini was alive at the same time as the top bel canto composers of the first half of the 19th century: Donizetti, Bellini and Rossini. His voice inspired them to compose many operatic roles specifically for him, which, after his death, have been almost impossible to cast. Therefore any project where a tenor is singing arias that were written with Rubini’s voice in mind is extremely ambitious indeed. Few would dare to attempt it and even less would actually manage to do it. Juan Diego Flórez undoubtedly belongs to this last category.
The difficulty of execution of the arias included in Flórez’s latest CD “Arias for Rubini”, meant as a tribute to the great tenor, can only be described as fiendish. It requires ringing, expressive coloratura, extreme high notes, sustained beautiful legato and an impeccable technique. Amazingly, it’s all there. Flórez delivers all arias in his trademark fresh, pure, crystalline sound, clearly pronouncing all words, singing with immaculate precision and beauty. He told me once that he believes bel canto should be virtuosic and beautiful at the same time, and that this is what he always tries to do. He certainly achieved it here with brilliance and style.
It is a joy to listen to his singing throughout the record, perfectly accompanied by the Orchestra and Coro dell’Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia, but there is more to it than that. Flórez’s colourful, luminous voice dazzles the ear, especially in its highest register, exuberantly displayed in this work, truly exploding in sparkling, acrobatic vocals. If the aria Ah! Mes amis…”, with its nine consecutive high Cs, from Donizetti’s La Fille du Régiment is often described as ‘The Everest for Tenors’, then the arias that Flórez sings in this CD can only be described as a climb into the vocal stratosphere. He does it to perfection from the first moment we hear him in Bellini’s Il Pirata, continuing throughout the other tracks on the CD, many of which are little known gems, such as Donizetti’s Marino Faliero, to the end where he finishes with a real vocal fireworks display in excerpts from Rossini’s Guglielmo Tell.
One could be forgiven for thinking that significant manipulation by the sound engineers was required; surely nobody can naturally sing such fiendishly difficult pieces so beautifully and so effortlessly without the technical wizardry present in a modern-day recording studio. But, if like me, you have seen and heard Flórez live, you will know that his voice is the real thing.
Finally, to end on a high note, if Rubini was the stuff of legend, with a voice out of this world, then we certainly have in Juan Diego Flórez a rightful and perfect successor.
Margarida Mota-Bull


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