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Tenore Tommaso 4852945
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Freddie De Tommaso (tenor)
Il Tenore
Philharmonia Orchestra/Paolo Arrivabeni
rec. 2021, St Jude-on-the-Hill, Hampstead, London
Sung texts with English translations enclosed
Reviewed as downloaded from press preview
DECCA 485 2945 [51]

At the age of 27 British-Italian tenor Freddie De Tommaso made headlines when he won First Prize, the Placido Domingo Tenor Prize and the Verdi Prize at the 2018 Vi˝as International Singing Competition in Barcelona. This led to engagements at the Royal Opera House Covent Garden, Dutch National Opera and the Vienna State Opera, where he opened the season in September 2020 with great success. In the spring 2021 Decca released his debut CD Passion to great acclaim and garnered awards from, among other publications, Gramophone and BBC Music Magazine. It went straight to the top of the chart, which triggered Decca to set down a sequel in November and here it is. Instead of gathering a dozen of the most popular tenor arias, De Tommaso and Decca took the wise decision to limit the programme to excerpts from four operas and include three extended duets, featuring three different soloists. And the aria lovers will not come away empty-handed: six favourite solo pieces are sprinkled out between the duets.

The musical numbers are presented in chronological order within each opera, that’s another wise decision. Thus, the disc opens with Cavaradossi’s Recondita armonia from Tosca. Almost every tenor of some importance has sung it, and many have recorded it, so Freddie De Tommaso has some legendary names to compete with, for instance Franco Corelli, who is his model. He may not have his tremendous volume, nor has he his exaggerated dynamics and eccentricities. In fact, his behaviour is stylish, and he has a strong and rounded voice, which at full throttle rings out impressively. He seems less interested in scaling down to softer nuances, which he however does in the long duet with Tosca, sung with brilliance and warmth by Lise Davidsen, slightly more vibrant than one is used to. She has also the ability to lighten her voice delicately to a more girlish tone. And De Tommaso expresses both intimacy and glowing passion. Then we jump to the last act and E lucevan le stelle, sung with feeling, and O dolci baci is caressed with great affection.

The two arias from Turandot are also well done. Non piangere, Li¨ is tender and passionate, and the unavoidable Nessun dorma is well-balanced with a glorious vincerˇ crowning the reading – and it is good to have the chorus before the climactic end.

The third Puccini opera is Madama Butterfly, a suitable choice considering the fact that Pinkerton was his breakthrough role at the Vienna State opera a couple of years. In the long duet that ends the first act, he is partnered by Welsh soprano Natalya Romaniw, whose sensitive silvery soprano is well suited to the 16-year-old geisha. Addio, fiorito asil, offers full-blooded singing with great intensity – arguably too full-blooded, but certainly impressive.

The Flower Song opens the Carmen section, and the intensity is tangible. He also sings a beautiful pianissimo B flat on the climactic et j’Útais une chose Ó toi! The finale to the opera is also excellent, and it develops to a true thriller, not least thanks to the participation of the chorus that sets Carmen and Don JosÚ’s conflict in relief to the bloody drama that is just taking place in the adjacent arena. De Tommaso expresses Don JosÚ’s humbleness in the opening of the duet, singing softly and sensitively, but he is also the wild animal JosÚ turns into, when he realises that he will lose Carmen. Moreover, he is fortunate to have by his side the young Russian mezzo-soprano Aigul Akhmetshina, still in her early 20s but a formidable singing actress with strikingly good looks, as can be seen on her homepage. Watch out for her! She is set out for a great career!

All those lovers of good tenor singing who have longed for a new recital with Freddie De Tommaso, after last year’s success with Passione: It’s here now! Don’t miss it. It is great. It’s worth every penny, and in the bargain, you get three great female singers who belong to the top of their trade.

G÷ran Forsling

Giacomo Puccini
Recondita armonia
Mario! Mario!
╔ lucevan le stelle
Non piangere, Li¨
Nessun dorma
Madama Butterfly:
Vogliatemi (Love Duet, Act I)
Addio, fiorito asil
Georges Bizet
La fleur que tu m’avais jetÚe (Flower Song)
C’est toi! / C’est moi! (Finale, Act IV)

Other performers
Lise Davidsen (soprano) (Tosca), Natalya Romaniw (soprano) (Cio-Cio-san), Aigul Akhmetshina (mezzo-soprano) (Carmen), Apollo Voices (8, 11),

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