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Zurab Anjaparidze (tenor)
Arias and Scenes from Operas

The Orchestra of State Academic Bolshoi Theatre/Mark Ermler,  Boris Khaikin (Tchaikovsky)
rec. 1967, 1968, 1973
MELODIYA MELCD1002373 [68:24]

Georgian tenor Zurab Anjaparidze (1928-1997) was the leading tenor at the Bolshoi Theatre for 11 years, from 1959 to 1970. He studied at the Tbilisi Conservatory under well-known singer and vocal pedagogue David Andguladze, who was educated in the school of Italian bel canto. Melodiya has just reissued this album of recordings Anjaparidze made between 1967 and 1973.

On evidence of this album, Zurab Anjaparidze was a spinto or dramatic tenor. His tone was rather Italianate, quite unlike most Russian or Soviet tenors, and somewhat reminiscent of Mario del Monaco. In fact, upon hearing him, the Italian press called him the “Soviet Franco Corelli”. Anjaparidze’s tone was even across the range, beautiful while having lots of power and steel in reserve. He had a very solid top, as evidenced by two solid high Cs in Di quella pira as well as a number of solid high B-flats.

If Anjaparidze’s tone was Italianate, his diction certainly wasn’t. It took me a while to realize that he was actually singing the Italian numbers in Italian. I have not heard a major tenor, past or present, with worse Italian diction, although there were many who would only sing in their native languages. In Celeste Aida, Anjaparidze sang the syllable “te” one note too soon, a curious departure from the score.

According to the CD jacket notes, Anjaparidze was one of the few [in the Soviet Union] who was able to sing the part of Otello. His singing in the duet with Iago was very exciting, and the dark-sounding baritone of O. Klenov was also very impressive. Anjaparidze was particularly renowned for the role of Herman in Tchaikovsky’s Queen of Spades. There is a recording of the complete opera featuring him. Here Anjaparidze is heard on three selections from the opera.

The Italian selections were recorded in 1968 and 1973. The recorded sound is quite good, much better than I expected of Soviet recordings from that era. The Tchaikovsky Queen of Spades excerpts were recorded in 1967 in noticeably inferior sound, on par with many other Soviet recordings from that period.

The booklet is in Russian, English and French, with notes by Boris Mukosey that give detailed information on Zurab Anjaparidze. The album comes in a slim package with a cardboard case housing a transparent tray. The CD is fashioned after an LP, and Zurab Anjaparidze’s portrait is on the front cover. Incidentally, Anjaparidze looks rather like Swedish tenor Nicolai Gedda, whose father was Russian.

This album is a revelation. Apart from a complete recording of Queen of Spades, Zurab Anjaparidze only made a few recordings of operatic arias, many of which are included here. All tenor aficionados as well as historians of operatic style must take a listen to this album.

Wai Kit Leung

Track Listing
Giacomo PUCCINI (1858-1924)
Recondita armonia (Tosca) [2:53]
E lucevan le stelle (Tosca) [3:12]
Donna non vidi mai (Manon Lescaut) [2:51]
Ah, Manon mi tradisce (Manon Lescaut) [2:51]
Ah! Non v'avvicinate! No, pazzo son (Manon Lescaut) [3:20]
Giuseppe VERDI (1813-1901)
Se quel guerrier io fossi!…Celeste Aida (Aida) [5:02]
Di quella pira (Il trovatore) [1:29]
Desdemona rea (Otello) [11:52]
Niun mi tema (Otello) [5:09]
Ruggiero LEONCAVALLO (1857-1919)
Recitar!...Vesti la giubba (I Pagliacci) [3:43]
Gaetano DONIZETTI (1797-1848)
Una furtiva lagrima (L'elisir d'amore) [4:27]
Pyotr TCHAIKOVSKY (1840-1893)
The Queen of Spades (arias) [21:30]



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