Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791)
Don Giovanni
1. Madamina, il catalogo è questo (Leporello) [5:51]
Le nozze di Figaro
2. Bravo, signor padrone! ... [0:47]
3. Se vuol ballare (Figaro) [2:32Relja Lukic (cello), Giannandrea Agnoletto (harpsichord)
Recitative and Aria for Bass and Orchestra K 512
4. Alcandro, lo confesso ...[1:11]
5. Non so d’onde viene (Clistene) [5:54]
Le nozze di Figaro
6. Ehi, sor paggio!* [1:00]
7. Non più andrai (Figaro) [3:59]
* New critical edition by Francesco Lora
Don Giovanni
8. Deh, vieni alla finestra (Don Giovanni) [2:04]
Dora Filippone (mandolin)
Aria for Bass and Orchestra K 513
9. Mentre ti lascio, o figlia (Dario) [7:58]
Don Giovanni
10. Fin ch’han dal vino (Don Giovanni) [1:30]
Così fan tutte
11. Rivolgete a lui lo sguardo (Guglielmo) [5:14]
Le nozze di Figaro
12. Tutto è disposto ... [1:22]
13. Aprite un po’ quegli occhi (Figaro) [2:30]
Recitative and Aria for Bass and Orchestra K 432 (421a)
14. Così dunque tradisci ... [1:26]
15. Aspri rimorsi atroci (Sebaste) [2:32]
Così fan tutte
16. Donne mie, la fate a tanti (Guglielmo) [3:22]
Aria for Bass, Double Bass Obbligato and Orchestra K 612
17. Per questa bella mano [6:52]
Davide Ghio (double bass solo)
Le nozze di Figaro
18. Hai già vinta la causa! ... [1:22]
19. Vedrò mentr’io sospiro (Conte) [3:16]
Ildebrando d’Arcangelo (bass-baritone)
Orchestra del Teatro Regio di Torino/Gianandrea Noseda
rec. Teatro Regio di Torino, Sala Regia, Turin, June 2010
sung texts with French, German and English translations enclosed
DEUTSCHE GRAMMOPHON 477 9297 [60:45]

Now in his early forties Ildebrando d’Arcangelo is certainly one of the leading bass-baritones on the international circuit and Mozart is his god. ‘He is the composer who inspired in me the passion for music and my career’, he is quoted saying in the liner-notes for this issue. His breakthrough came in Parma in 1994 when he sang Leporello under John Eliot Gardiner (also recorded by DG) and today he has an impressively long list of recordings, including a Handel recital that was issued a couple of years ago. Some years before that I reviewed Harnoncourt’s Le nozze di Figaro recording from Salzburg (DG on both CD and DVD) with d’Arcangelo singing the title role and I found him superb in every respect, besides singing marvellously also a charismatic actor. Cesare Siepi on the Erich Kleiber recording on Decca from the mid-1950s has always been my touchstone Figaro and here I finally found someone very close to that legendary singer.

But he opens the recital with Leporello’s Catalogue aria, a role that Siepi didn’t sing, at least not on record. Here he excels in expressive word-painting, though never over-the-top antics in the slap-stick style that one sometimes can hear in this role. It is a grandiose voice, powerful but flexible down to the softest whisper.

Later in the programme he is upgraded to the Don himself. The serenade is scaled down but not as honeyed as some true baritones can make it but full of seductiveness even so. Fine mandolin playing, excellently recorded. The champagne aria is a feast, full-throated and infectious.

His Figaro is just as superb as on the Harnoncourt recording. In the first act aria Se vuol ballare signor contino he is the revolutionary with his dark tone and violent passion but there is also warmth in his voice. Non più andrai, which brings the first act to its conclusion, is here preceded by a recitative accompagnato that was not found until the 1930s and was only recently restored by Francesco Lora. It’s a vital piece that fits like a glove to sit before this eternal favourite aria, which is sung with all the required verve and with superb enunciation. He also indulges in some embellishments taking him up to the highest reaches of the bass voice. The top notes have a thrust and brilliance that few basses can match. The vitality of the orchestral playing is also stirring. The act IV aria also finds him in his element. As in Don Giovanni he changes from valet to nobleman and ends the recital with the count’s recitative and aria. The anger of the count is very tangible but it is still a Figaro voice in disguise.

Guglielmo is his role in Così fan tutte and we are treated to a well characterized and nuanced Rivolgete from the first act with exceptional ringing top notes. Then there’s a lively Donne mie, more dramatic than Erich Kunz’s on the Karl Böhm Decca set from the 1950s, an old favourite of mine. Kunz has more Viennese charm while d’Arcangelo’s glow is more Mediterranean.

These are all well known favourites but in between are also some concert arias that are not frequently heard. That is a pity for here is inspired writing by the mature Mozart and had they been included in some of his own operas they would have been just as admired as Donne mie or Madamina. One reason for their neglect is their difficulty. The vocal range is enormous and they require stupendous technique. Ildebrando d’Arcangelo has both. Non so d’onde viene explores the full register and he has the lowest notes as well as the capacity to manage effortless florid singing. The aria was composed in 1787 but he had set the same text nine years earlier for Aloysia Weber. Mentre ti lascio, also from 1787, is another grand aria, which certainly can be counted among Mozart’s best. After a slightly unsteady recitative, d’Arcangelo delivers a magnificent reading of the aria proper. According to the booklet notes both were written for the great Ludwig Fischer, the singer who created Osmin in Die Entführung aus dem Serail, though another source says that Mentre ti lascio, was composed for Gottfried von Jacquin. Aspri rimorsi atroci, written in 1783, is shorter but tremendously dramatic with a furious recitative and an energetic aria. d’Arcangelo manages the great leaps that Mozart requires him to sing with the utmost ease and great power. Even more of a challenge is Per questa bella mano, written in March 1791 for Franz Gerl, the first Sarastro in Die Zauberflöte, and the double-bass player Friedrich Pischlberger. It is long and difficult, not least for the double-bass player, who needs to be a true virtuoso. Davide Ghio on this recording has a tough time but is superb and d’Arcangelo fulfils all our expectations, impressing greatly with sonorous pitch-black deep notes.

Gianandrea Noseda and Ildebrando d’Arcangelo have splendid rapport and with fine playing from the Turin orchestra and excellent recording this is one of the most thrilling bass recitals that has come my way.

Göran Forsling

One of the most thrilling bass recitals that has come my way.