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Marcelo Álvarez: Twenty Years on the Opera Stage
Arias from operas by Giordano, Leoncavallo, Mascagni, Puccini, Gomes, Halévy, Cilea, Zandonai, Massenet
Marcelo Álvarez (tenor)
St. Petersburg State Symphony Orchestra/Constantine Orbelian
rec. April 2014, Studio No. 5, St. Petersburg Radio, Russia
Sung texts and English translations in booklet
DELOS DE 3472 [54:38]

Renowned Argentine lyric tenor Marcelo Álvarez debuted in 1994 with Il barbiere di Siviglia and soon garnered international success. This Delos release marks his 'Twenty Years on the Opera Stage'. During a production of Verdi's Un ballo in Maschera at the New York Metropolitan Opera the conductor Constantine Orbelian, after seeing Álvarez's performance as Gustavo (Riccardo), felt "it was one of the greatest I have seen in my many years of going to the opera". This planted the seed for this recording.

It's admirable how Álvarez has taken on a variety of roles bel canto, French Grand Opera and since the mid-2000s more dramatic assignments. This CD comprises fifteen arias from fourteen operas by nine different, predominantly Italian, composers with two French arias. This fascinating mix of the standard and rarely heard is greatly to my taste: operas such as Zandonai's version of Giulietta e Romeo and Leoncavallo's Chatterton, Zaza and his version of La Bohčme.

Never less than engaging, one immediately notices Álvarez's clear focus and intelligence. His ability to colour his voice and darken his low register is aptly demonstrated in the Leoncavallo arias O mio piccolo tavolo from Zaza and Testa adorata from La Bohčme. As heard in the opening aria Un di all'azzuro spazio from Giordano's Andrea Chénier the tenor has a remarkable weeping quality to his voice and a sweetness at the top. Pavarotti had it but there have been few others. One of the French arias Halévy's Rachel quand du seigneur from La Juive confirms Álvarez's flexible vocal production and how he can quickly move through his register with enviable control. There's also an admirable heroic quality in his Amor ti vieta from Giordano's Fedora. Also notable is the mood of restrained passion broken by the sudden outburst in Zandonai's Giulietta, son io from Giulietta e Romeo.

Under Orbelian's assured control there's solid and sensitive support from the St. Petersburg State Symphony Orchestra which adds to the weight of dramatic impact when needed. The recorded sound is clarity itself with good presence; well balanced too. As expected of Delos the booklet notes are first class including the sung texts with an English translation. Adding to the merits of this issue there are short descriptions of each aria placing them in the context of each opera.

By today's standards fifty-five minutes is short measure and I really missed the opportunity to hear two or three more arias especially when they have been chosen with such an adventurous spirit.

This is a winning aria collection and deserves great success.

Michael Cookson

Full track-listing
Umberto GIORDANO (1867-1948)
1. Andrea Chénier - Un di all'azzuro spazio [5:33]
Ruggero LEONCAVALLO (1857-1919)
2. Chatterton - Che piů mi resta [2:30]
3. La Bohčme - Testa adorata [3:00]
Umberto GIORDANO (1867-1948)
4. Fedora - Amor ti vieta [1:39]
Ruggero LEONCAVALLO (1857-1919)
5. Pagliacci - Vesti la giubba [3:32]
6. Zaza - O mio piccolo tavolo [5:05]
Pietro MASCAGNI (1863-1945)
7. Cavalleria rusticana - Mamma, quell vino č generoso [3:44]
Giacomo PUCCINI (1858-1924)
8. Turandot - Non piangere, Liů [2:27]
9. Turandot - Nessun dorma (3:11)
10. La Fanciulla del West - Ch'ella mi creda [2:09]
Antônio Carlos GOMES (1836-1896)
11. Lo Schiavo - Quando nascesti tu [4:01]
Jacques Fromental HALÉVY (1799-1862)
12. La Juive - Rachel quand du seigneur [5:51]
Francesco CILEA (1866-1950)
13. Adriana Lecouvreur - L'anima ho stanca [1:59]
Riccardo ZANDONAI (1883-1944)
14: Giulietta e Romeo - Giulietta, son io [4:40]
Jules MASSENET (1842-1912)
15. Le Cid - O Souverain [5:17]


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