One of the most grown-up review sites around
One of the most grown-up review sites around

Search MusicWeb Here
 

 

International mailing

  Founder: Len Mullenger              Founding Editor: Rob Barnett              Contact Seen and Heard here

Some items
to consider

  • Henze Kammermusik 1958
  • Mozart Flute Quartets
  • Schubert complete piano works
  • Sammartini: 6 Concerti grossi
  • Henze Kammermusik 1958
 
Tudor



CD and Blue-ray Audio


CD and Blue-ray Audio


CPE Bach Cantatas
a revelation


Biber: Sacred Choral Works
Don't miss it


Jonathan Dove


Tommie Haglund
Unique and Powerful music


Organ Fireworks


Highly Entertaining


A triumphant performance


Bruckner Symphony 4
One of the finest I have heard


A most joy-inducing recording


A winning partnership


A Lohengrin to treasure.

 

REVIEW Plain text for smartphones & printers

Support us financially by purchasing this from

My Life is an Opera
Roberto Alagna (tenor)
Aleksandra Kurzak (soprano) (trs. 5, 8, 9)
London Orchestra/Yvan Cassar
rec. 2014, Air Studios, London; Abbey Road Studios, London
DEUTSCHE GRAMMOPHON 4811524 [57:29]

Roberto Alagna, recently turned 52, is obviously still going strong, judging by this recital, recorded less than a year ago. A couple of years ago he divorced his wife since 1996 Angela Gheorghiu and started a relationship with the Polish soprano Aleksandra Kurzak, with whom he has a one-year-old daughter. Ms Kurzak appears on this disc in three duets and is in excellent vocal shape.

The programme at large is a mix of well-known arias and some relative rarities. The two excerpts from Manon is a fine introduction to the recital. He has the brilliance, he has insight – and he has retained his enviable capacity to scale down and sing a honeyed pianissimo. His voice seems to be perfectly intact, as we have come to know it over more than twenty years. The tone may have hardened a mite, which is not necessarily a drawback. Lenski’s aria from Eugene Onegin, sung in French, could have been more lyrical. As it is he sings too much forte. The aria from Gounod’s La Reine de Saba, one of the rarities, is on the other hand gloriously done. The origins of the song A la luz de la luna (In the moonlight) are a bit uncertain. According to one source it was possibly composed by two habanera singers from Cuba, active in Catalonia, named Anton and Michelena. It was famously recorded by Enrico Caruso and baritone Emilio de Gogorza in 1918 and it should now enjoy a new lease of life with the present duet by Alagna and Kurzak. A longstanding favourite for tenors wanting to show off their virtuosity is Rossini’s Neapolitan tarantella La danza. Alagna’s version is full-throated and should win him standing ovations at recitals but connoisseurs would demand a more nuanced approach. Nuance is more readily found in his reading of the aria from Sigurd. Like Wagner’s Ring this opera is based on the Nibelungenlied and the Icelandic Edda. Premiered in 1884 it saw several productions during a ten-year-period but then disappeared only to enjoy a few revivals after World War 2.

Donizetti’s Roberto Devereux from 1837 also dropped out before the end of the 19th century but was reawakened in the 1960s and has been championed by singers like Leyla Gencer, Montserrat Caballé, Beverly Sills and Edita Gruberova. The duet and cabaletta heard here is truly vintage Donizetti and both singers are involved, though Alagna’s tone sometimes becomes rather pinched. Good to have it in such classy performance though. Alagna is heard to better advantage in Pinkerton’s aria from Madama Butterfly and his reading of the scene from Hérodiade is stylish – generally speaking he is at his best in French repertoire. With this in mind it would have been wiser to sing the Orfeo aria in French. As it is it sounds a bit over the top – but he sings it gloriously.

Gounod is not the only composer to present the Queen of Sheba in operatic guise. Another setting of the Biblical story is Karl Goldmark’s, and this is a great opera, which regrettably is rarely heard today. There is fortunately an excellent complete recording on Hungaroton from 1980, conducted by Adam Fischer with Siegfried Jerusalem as Assad and Klara Takács as the Queen. Magische Töne is perhaps the only number that is well known and Alagna sings it really beautifully in a nicely shaded reading.

David Alagna, Roberto’s younger brother, is a successful composer and the scene from his opera Le dernier jour d’un condamné, based on a story by Victor Hugo, is very attractive.

The title role in Pagliacci has been roared to pieces by many a leather-lunged tenor or drenched in tears – sometimes by the same tenors. It is comforting that Alagna steers a sensitive middle course.

The London Orchestra – possibly a pick-up band – play well and the recorded sound is good. I regret the absence of texts, especially since there are several numbers here that are not standard repertoire. Maybe not the very best recital with Roberto Alagna but well worth owning.

Göran Forsling
 
Track listing
Giacomo PUCCINI (1858 – 1924)
Manon Lescaut:
1. Ah, Manon, mi tradisce [2:52]
2. Donna non vidi mai [2:41]
Pyotr Ilyich TCHAIKOVSKY (1840 – 1893)
Eugene Onegin:
3. Pour moi ce jour est tout mystčre (Kuda, Kuda) [5:47]
Charles GOUNOD (1818 – 1893)
La Reine de Saba:
4. Faiblesse de la race humaine … Inspirez-moi, race divine [5:00]
Anton y Michelena (18?? – 19??)
5. A la luz de la luna [3:48]
Giaocchino ROSSINI (1792 – 1868)
6. La danza [3:23]
Ernest REYER (1823 – 1909)
Sigurd:
7. Esprits, gardiens de ces lieux vénérés [4:32]
Gaetano DONIZETTI (1797 – 1848)
Roberto Devereux:
8. Un tenero cuore … [3:25]
9. Cabaletta: Un lampo, un lampo orribile [2:46]
Giacomo PUCCINI
Madama Butterfly:
10. Addio fiorito asil [2:04]
Jules MASSENET (1842 – 1912)
Hérodiade:
11. Ne pouvant réprimer ... Adieu donc [4:55]
Christoph Willibald GLUCK (1714 – 1787)
Orfeo ed Euridice:
12. Che faro senza Euridice [3:52]
Karl GOLDMARK (1830 – 1915)
Die Königin von Saba:
13. Magische Töne [4:00]
David ALAGNA (b. 1975)
Le dernier jour d’un condamné:
14. Il est dix heures ... Encore six heures [3:59]
Ruggero LEONCAVALLO (1857 – 1919)
I Pagliacci:
15. Introduction I Pagliacci [1:10]
16. Recitar ... Vesti la giubba [3:16]

 

 




Gerard Hoffnung CDs

Advertising on
Musicweb



Donate and get a free CD

 

New Releases

Naxos Classical



Musicweb sells the following labels
Acte Préalable
(THE Polish label)
Altus 10% off
Atoll 10% off
CRD 10% off
Hallé 10% off
Lyrita 10% off
Nimbus 10% off
Nimbus Alliance
Prima voce 10% off
Red Priest 10% off
Retrospective 10% off
Saydisc 10% off
Sterling 10% off


Follow us on Twitter

Subscribe to our free weekly review listing
sample

Sample: See what you will get

Editorial Board
MusicWeb International
Founding Editor
   
Rob Barnett
Seen & Heard
Editor Emeritus
   Bill Kenny
Editor in Chief
   Vacant
MusicWeb Webmaster
   David Barker
MusicWeb Founder
   Len Mullenger