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Peter Seiffert - Italian Opera Arias
Umberto GIORDANO (1867–1948)
Fedora: 1. Amor ti vieta [1:50]
Gaetano DONIZETTI (1797–1848)
Don Pasquale: 2. Com’è gentil [4:07]
L’Elisir d’amore: 3. Una furtive lagrima [4:57]
Giacomo PUCCINI (1858–1924)
Gianni Schicchi: 4. Avete torto! … Firenze è come un albero fiorito [3:12]
Francesco CILEA (1866–1950)
Adriana Lecouvreur: 5. La dolcissima effigie [2:13]; 6. L’anima ho stanca [2:02]
Giuseppe VERDI (1813–1901)
Il trovatore: 7. Di quella pira  [1:59]
Amilcare PONCHIELLI (1834–1886)
La Gioconda: 8. Cielo e mar! [4:40]
Andrea Chenier: 9. Colpito qui m’aveta … Un di all’azzurro spazio [5:40]
Giuseppe VERDI
Aida: 10. Se quell guerrier io fossi … Celeste Aida [4:57]
Turandot: 11. Nessun dorma [3:56]
La Bohème: 12. Che gelida manina [5:19]
Pietro MASCAGNI (1863–1945)
Cavalleria rusticana: 13. Mamma, quel vino è generoso [4:54]
Peter Seiffert (tenor),
Chorus (2, 7, 11) and Orchestra of Deutsche Oper Berlin/Ralf Weikert
rec. 15-21 May 1993, Christuskirche, Berlin-Oberschöneweide
Texts and translations included.
EMI CLASSICS 55010 [49:51]

Peter Seiffert has behind him a career of more than 25 years by now and during the last decade he has been increasingly associated with Wagner roles. He started as a lyrical tenor and in 1993 when this recital was recorded, he still refused to be pigeonholed as a Mozart tenor or a Wagner tenor. He wanted to sing both and anything in between. He sang Lohengrin, Ottavio and Tamino “in rapid succession” at the Munich Opera Festival and his Wagner profited from the lyrical qualities of his Mozart. He has been singing operetta too and here we have him in a baker’s dozen of Italian arias, spanning from the light lyrical, almost tenorino role of Ernesto in Don Pasquale to spinto roles like Manrico, Andrea Chenier, Radames and Calaf.
It is his lyrical singing that impresses most. He starts the recital with a slow Amor ti vieta, lyrical but still with some strain. Then follows his Ernesto with chorus, and here he adopts a scaled-down,  light and beautiful tone in the Schipa or Valletti mould but the singer he reminds me most of is Gösta Winbergh.  I had been listening to his Ernesto only hours before playing this disc and he was a singer with the same development from Mozart singer to one of the important Lohengrins and Walthers and Parsifals while retaining the ability to sing lyrical roles with the same ease as before. Both singers also had/have good taste and created their characters with insight and intelligence. In Seiffert’s case his Ernesto aria is marred by a too forceful and strained end, where he should have contented himself with something more elegant. Una furtiva lagrima is also well conceived. One hears that it is a large voice that is being pared down but he has good runs and the end is fine: a crescendo followed by a diminuendo down to a soft pianissimo in one long phrase.
He is a lively and virile Rinuccio in the aria from Gianni Schicchi, but tends to force towards the end. On the other hand the two arias from Adriana Lecouvreur are splendidly sung, again in a lyrical vein but with glow. His Di quella pira is vigorous and more nuanced than most spinto tenors can manage, but at this stage of his development it seems a number too large for him and he has to slide up to the final note. Cielo e mar! has a soft and lyrical opening and here he stays within his natural boundaries, making this one of the most satisfying numbers. In the aria from Andrea Chenier Giovanni Martinelli’s acoustic recording has long been my benchmark for its razor sharp intensity but Seiffert is not far behind. Radames might have been too heavy a part for him back in 1993 but it is another lyrical and well conceived reading, miles apart from the bawling Mario Del Monaco that I heard the other day. More heavyweight fare comes up in the shape of Nessun dorma but he has the measure of this aria too and he follows up the Puccini stakes with a tasteful Che gelida manina. It is only the high C that sticks out, being insufficiently integrated in the dynamic process. Finally he delivers a vibrant Mamma, quell vino è generoso from Cavalleria rusticana, that is charged with emotion. This is definitely one of the very best offerings on this recital.
Ralf Weikert leads his Berlin forces safely but with no special insights and the recording is fine. As an extra bonus – nowadays – the booklet contains not only a biography on the soloist but also the sung texts with translations in German, English and French. Full marks for that!
All the arias are well-known and every tenor of any importance has recorded most of them. In other words: competition is formidable. In spite of some reservations I think that Peter Seiffert stands up well against many of his rivals and his nuanced, tasteful and well considered readings should be attractive to many readers, even though the playing time is parsimonious.
Göran Forsling


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