four years ago – how time flies – I reviewed a complete recording
of Massenet’s Werther (review)
was positively surprised by Andrea Bocelli’s singing of the
title role. Not that he could quite compete with tenors like
Gedda, Domingo or Kraus but his voice had matured considerably
and filled out in the lower register, allowing him to express
warmth more readily than earlier recordings I had heard.
A couple of years ago Decca released the two war-horses Pagliacci
. There he fought a losing battle in the famous
set-pieces that require much more heft than he could muster.
He had to resort to rather painful screaming.
this new disc with mainly popular tenor repertoire from yesteryear
he challenges most of the great names from more than one
hundred years of recorded singing – and by and large he is
again the loser. Singers like Caruso, Gigli, Schipa, Björling,
Del Monaco, Di Stefano, Bergonzi, Pavarotti, Domingo and
more recently Alagna have all offered us this or similar
repertoire with much more finesse. The opening song, Un
amore così grande
, with some vocal contributions from
his fiancée Veronica Berti, finds him singing at a constant
fortissimo. His wish to sound impressive mars the tone so
that he sounds very strained. In ‘O surdato ‘nnammurato
is more nuanced and the tone becomes more agreeable. The
tessitura is lower and he amply demonstrates that his baritonal
register is full and rounded and expresses warmth. But his
scaling down the tone is more the exception than the rule
and in the old favourite Mamma
he shouts almost mechanically. Santa
has a couple of sensitive touches. In the second
verse he sings ‘cosi soave’ rather suavely and the final
verse, ‘O dolce Napoli’ is taken considerably slower and
sung with some feeling. Even so, too much is taken in the
highest gear with a lot of shouting and extremely drawn out
high notes. Vieni sul mar!
has some sensitive phrasing
and he ends beautifully.
he has a fine voice, which is not unlike the young Pavarotti’s
but unfortunately he has adopted the vices that crept into
Pavarotti’s singing when he grew older. In Era di maggio
mezzo-soprano Anna Bonitatibus joins him but like his fiancée
on the first track she is relegated to a backward position
while Bocelli fills the aural picture.
orchestral arrangements are often rather overblown and I
wish that someone would be brave enough to record this repertoire
with only piano accompaniment. Bergonzi once did and Alagna
recorded some serenades with guitar accompaniment from his
brothers. Shunning the orchestra automatically creates a
more intimate atmosphere.
are no timings for the individual songs or for the album
and the composers and the authors for each song are inconsistently
presented: sometimes the first name is the composer, sometimes
the second name is the composer. I had to do some research
to find out who was who and also find the birth and death
suppose that this disc will sell, whatever my verdict is.
I simply hope that Andrea Bocelli one day will issue a record
where he shows the same sensitivity when singing popular
songs as he did quite frequently on the Werther
I doubt that I will play this disc again but will still keep
it for reference purposes.