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Support us financially by purchasing this disc from
Giuseppe VERDI (1813-1901)
The Verdi Album
Opera arias from Rigoletto, Aida, Un Ballo in Maschera, Il Trovatore, Luisa Miller, Simon Boccanegra, La Forza del Destino, I Masnadieri, Otello, Macbeth
Jonas Kaufmann (tenor)
Coro del Teatro Municipale di Piacenza,
Orchestra dell'Opera di Parma/Pier Giorgio Morandi
rec. 13-19 March 2013, Niccolò Paganini Auditorium, Parma, Italy
Full sung Italian texts in English, French and German translations
SONY CLASSICAL 88765492002 [75:36]

Munich-born tenor Jonas Kaufmann has garnered a massive following owing to a combination of magnificent performances in a variety of roles and matinee idol looks. In May this year I reported from the Wagner Birthday Concert at the Semperoper, Dresden featuring overtures and great tenor scenes from Wagner's operas with Kaufmann as soloist and the Dresden Staatskapelle under Christian Thielemann. It was a memorable concert with Kaufmann in wonderful voice. I wrote of it: “Such was the elevated quality of both singing and orchestral playing I couldn’t help wondering if these tenor scenes have ever been performed better.”
 
Kaufmann is able to move with relative ease between repertoire that ranges from Mozart to Wagner to Verdi. Now Kaufman has turned his attention to a collection of scenes and arias. He has a lot to thank Verdi for as it was in 2006 that he made his international breakthrough singing Alfredo Germont in La traviata at the New York Met. It’s not surprising that in Verdi’s bicentenary year Kaufmann’s itinerary is strong on Verdi with three productions of Don Carlo (in London, Milan and Salzburg) and two role débuts in Il trovatore and La forza del destino. The present release comprises thirteen items eleven of which are first performances for him. On stage Kaufmann has sung the ubiquitous “La donna è mobile” from Rigoletto and the duet between Rodrigo and Don Carlo “Dio, che nell'alma infondere" from Don Carlo. The other arias Kaufmann learned especially for this release.
 
My impression of this appealing collection is the unyielding quality of Kaufmann’s Italianate singing. He penetrates deep into the heart of the text projecting his voice with a sense of comparative ease and remarkable power when needed.
 
In the opening aria of the collection "La donna è mobile" from Rigoletto I was surprised by the seriousness of Kaufmann’s rendition of the much-loved act III canzone sung by an aloof Duke of Mantua.  From act III of Un Ballo in Maschera Kaufmann squeezes every last drop of emotion from Ricardo’s romanza: "Ma se m'è forza perderti".  Il Trovatore is saturated with memorable melodies and none more so than Manrico’s greatly admired aria "Di quella pira l'orrendo foco" with the engaging Kaufmann providing a virile rendition imbued with energy and passion. 

From Luisa Miller Rodolfo’s glorious act II: "Quando le sere al placido chiaror d'un ciel stellato" is a reflective look back to happier times and is sung with great tenderness. "Dio, che nell'alma infondere", the act II duet from Don Carlo,has Kaufmann in the title role with Franco Vassallo as Rodrigo. They sing together with marvellously blended tone, strongly and in true heroic style.  One of the most challenging arias in all Verdi opera is Alvaro’s act III romanza "O tu, che in seno agli angeli" from La Forza del Destino. Appropriately unhurried Kaufmann’s singing conveys great feeling - both pleading and reverential.  

Under Pier Giorgio Morandi I found the singing of the Coro del Teatro Municipale di Piacenza and the accompaniment from the Orchestra dell'Opera di Parma both dutiful and satisfying.
 
The sound quality is both clear and well balanced. The booklet includes notes on each track by Kaufmann himself and an essay by Karl Dietrich Gräwe ‘Between Dreams and Reality: Verdi and his Tenors’. Congratulations are in order for supplying full sung Italian texts. Translations are provided in English, French and German. I remain unclear why the final item - the Macbeth aria, which was recorded at the same session and is easily accommodated on the release - should be described as a ‘bonus track’.
 
This is a valuable release from Jonas Kaufmann who is especially suited to this Verdi repertoire.
 
Michael Cookson 

Track Listing:
1. Rigoletto, Atto III, Canzone: "La donna è mobile" [2:21]
2. Aida, Atto I, Scena e romanza: "Se quel guerrier io fossi!...Celeste Aida" [4:43]
3. Un Ballo in Maschera, Atto I, Canzone: "Di' tu se fedele" [3:29]
4. Un Ballo in Maschera, Atto III, Scena e romanza: "Forse la soglia attinse... Ma se m'è forza perderti" [5:41]
5. Il Trovatore, Parte III, Scena ed aria: "Ah! sì, ben mio... Di quella pira" [7:52]
6. Luisa Miller, Atto II, Scena ed aria: "Oh! fede negar potessi... Quando le sere al placido" [6:21]
7. Simon Boccanegra, Atto II, Scena ed aria: "O inferno! Amelia qui!... Sento avvampar nell'anima... Cielo pietoso, rendila" [5:56]
8. Don Carlo, Atto II, Scena e duetto: "È lui! desso, l'Infante!... Dio, che nell'alma infondere" [8:26]
9. La Forza del Destino, Atto III, Scena e romanza: "La vita è inferno all'infelice...O tu, che in seno agli angeli" [10:41]
10. I Masnadieri, Atto III, Scena 2: "Destatevi, o pietre... Giuri ognun questo canuto" [4:25]
11. Otello, Atto III : "Dio! mi potevi scagliar" [5:14]
12. Otello, Atto IV: "Niun mi tema" [6:09]
13. Macbeth, Atto IV, Scena ed aria: "O figli, o figli miei!... Ah, la paterna mano" [4:12] 


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