Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
Umberto Giordano: Andrea Chenier
Andrea Bocelli is accompanied by some of the most stirring music in Italian repertoire. Andrea Chenier is a tale of love that stays in one's soul forever. Bocelli partners with the aristocratic soprano Violeta Urmana, who ... more »
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Andrea Bocelli is accompanied by some of the most stirring music in Italian repertoire. Andrea Chenier is a tale of love that stays in one's soul forever. Bocelli partners with the aristocratic soprano Violeta Urmana, who has sung at the Met with much success. Selections include: Come un bel di dì Maggio, La Mamma morta, and others!
An "Andrea Chenier" Worth Having
Iris--NYC | New York City, USA | 04/14/2010
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I love this opera--this is my fourth version (I also have Corelli-Tebaldi, Corelli-Pietrasanta DVD, del Monaco-Callas). It is one of my favorite operas. Knowing Italian just helps me appreciate the singing more, as the acting here by both Bocelli and Urmana is particularly fine.
Andrea Bocelli is a great Andrea Chenier and when he sings "Un bel di' di Maggio"/"A beautiful day in May" in the last act, it is the culmination of everything he has been striving for since he sang it on "Aria"--a great voice is now married to a very fine technique and he can do just about anything he wants to. It would be worth it to buy the album just for this one aria where Bocelli reaches the height of what a tenor voice can do. His high notes and the way he holds "gelido spirito" is chillingly beautiful, just as it is supposed to be. And then you have Bocelli's deep dark note on the last word of the aria "muore"--he has a fantastic vocal extension from the highest tenor notes down to a deep baritonal timbre.
In Act 3, when Bocelli sings "Fu soldato."/"I was a soldier," he puts into it everything that should be there, going from soldierly defiance to poetic metaphor and back to defiance at the end. His voice does every range of expression that the music requires. He is the soldier and the poet--the two sides of Andrea Chenier. In fact, he makes just about every moment in the opera from his first act aria, known as "L'Improvviso"/"The Improvisation," to the end of the opera.
Violetta Urmana has a very beautiful voice and she creates many magical moments when she sings. She can bring tears to your eyes when she sings the famous soprano aria, "La mama morta"/"My mother died." You can't really ask for more than that. Urmana and Bocelli have a perfect rapport when they sing together. They have great chemistry throughout the opera, which is so important, and their voices are a perfect match.
One thing to listen for is how beautifully both Bocelli and Urmana do the "portamentos." "Andrea Chenier" is an opera with a great many portamentos, that is, the voice moves form holding the last vowel note of a word right into the following word without a pause for breath. This requires great breath control plus the ability to move up and down on the scale without a break.
In Bocelli's first aria, "L'Improvviso," he has two--both very difficult. He does the portamento first from "Gridai, vinto d'amor: 'T'amo, tu che mi baci," between "d'amor" and "T'amo." The second one at the end of the aria is fiendishly difficult to do without a breath because it is on the exact same word and he has to go up on the second "amor" and also make a question out of the first: "Non conoscete amor? Amor, divino dono". The real test of the tenor is whether he can do that second portamento--as Bocelli can.
Also to listen for in this aria is the way the expressiveness has to shift from the poetic happiness of the first part, to the anger of the second part, to the reproachfulness at the end. Many opera arias convey basically one emotion, one feeling, as in the love duets or the gorgeous "Un bel di' di Maggio", so it is a real test of the tenor whether he can shift his emotional expressiveness as the music and words require here. Bocelli does it perfectly.
"L'Improvviso" is well-known among tenors to be a very difficult aria--I have heard a few famous tenors do it and Bocelli can certainly take his place among them as one of the great singers of this aria. Listen to the way he gives the perfect expansive and vocally high interpretation to "firmamento"/"firmament" in the first part of the aria, so that he makes you see in his voice, in his vocal sound, the high expanse of blue sky arching overhead
I have never heard anything better than when Bocelli and Urmana sing the last act duet, "Vicino a te." It is so beautiful--it is the supreme example of what opera can be and do. There is a magical fusion of their two voices such as I have rarely ever heard before. The two voices blend and become one (seemingly effortlessly--but they must have worked together very hard to achieve this effect), expressing exactly the words of the aria and the theme of the opera--"Il nostro e' amore d'anime"/"Our love is the love of souls" (meaning two souls that are the same, that are one). Words cannot describe the pure beauty and magic that they have created together in this duet.
The conductor conducts it quite slowly. I don't mind this because this is good for singers with fine techniques. It allows Bocelli and Urmana to make many wonderful effects with their voices; it allows them to give us moments of rare and great beauty in holding or spinning out a phrase. However, it is death for mediocre singers and it kills the baritone, Lucio Gallo. He is the one great disappointment in this album. Gallo is just mediocre in a role that calls for a very great baritone.
The album is a triumph of beautiful singing for Andrea and Urmana. It will always rank as among their greatest singing."
Better than some of Bocelli's other operatic offerings
David L. Reynolds | LA, CA USA | 04/16/2010
(3 out of 5 stars)
"A lot of opera purists lament Bocelli's "intrusion" into legitimate opera and some of his recording have proved them correct (the Werther, for example). This opera works better for him although he will never replace Corelli, Domingo, Del Monaco, Tucker (fill in your own favorite), let alone surpass them. Vocally he's in good shape; he tends to sing marginally flat in the passagio and he's not very refined dynamically as everything seems to be at the same dynamic level. He manages to be as loud if not louder than Violeta Urmana in their duets which probably isn't a reflection of reality. His diction though is excellent and his passion is genuine. He is, after all, a native Italian and that does count for something.
Urmana is good, but I think this type of hair-under-the-arms Italian verismo does not work for her. She's too straight-laced, not bothering to scream where Giordano asks her too (in Act Three) and making almost nothing of the third act finale that here sounds like she's casually reading off a teleprompter. The voice, especially on top, is impressive. I have some reservations about her middle register which can sound unsteady here and there. She's a fine singer, but shows her artistry more in other repertoire.
Lucio Gallo used to have a good voice (remember the Abbado Marriage of Figaro?). His voice has become unsteady although not really unpleasant. He, too, is Italian and he knows what he's singing about. I just wish his current vocal estate was more appealing.
The supporting cast (all Italian) is excellent with some really good voices and characterizations coming from the Bersi, the Abbate, and the Incredibile. Special mention should go to Elena Obratzsova in her cameo as old Madelon. Yes, the voice is a wreck, but she contributes a vivid portrayal of an old woman overcome with grief, sacrificing her grandson to the "Cause". The orchestra and chorus are good (though the chorus is very sedate during the trial scene). There is very little "production" in an opera that cries out for it. Marco Armiliato conducts with a concise understanding of this repertoire. No doubt some of his tempi were dictated by the needs of his star tenor, but he brings off an effective performance.
The sound is good. If other singers were not present when Bocelli recorded his part (as in Decca's Thais with Renee Fleming), it's not too obvious. The engineers have made sure that Bocelli is always audible. In a live performance he may well have been drowned out by Urmana (unless he was miked). No matter: if you like Bocelli's opera recordings, get this. It's one of his better efforts. If you're more interested in Giordano's opera there are many other preferable choices (see singers listed above, all of whom have studio or pirates available on a variety of labels)."