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Tales of Opera
Simon Keenlyside, Gioachino Rossini, Jules Massenet
Tales of Opera
Genre: Classical
  •  Track Listings (15) - Disc #1


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The leading British baritone struts his stuff
Santa Fe Listener | Santa Fe, NM USA | 09/25/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)

"If you count Bryn Terfel as Welsh, then Simon Keenlyside ranks as the leading British baritone, his every move greeted rapturously by the musical press in London. He's said to be dashing onstage and sings with intensity; his voice, although lighter than either Terfel's or Hampson's, is flexible and attractive. I don't think you'd pick it out in a crowd -- he lacks the distintive signature of a superstar. But his career has skyrocketed, and as a young man he was tapped by Abbado, no less, to record Don Giovanni.

This CD is one of those typical calling-card recitals of arias ranging from Mozart and Rossini to Tchaikovsky and verismo. Here's the complete program:

Il Barbiere di Siviglia : Largo al factotum della citta (Rossini). Guillame Tell : Sois immobile (Rossini). Herodiade : Vision Fugitive (Massenet). Don Carlo : Per me guinto e il di (Verdi). Un ballo in maschera : Eri tu che macchiavi quell'anima (Verdi). La Traviata : Di provenza il mar (Verdi). Hamlet : O vin dissipe la tristesse (Thomas). I Puritani : Ah! Per sempre io ti perdel (Bellini). Zauberflote : Ein Madchen oder Weibchen (Mozart). Pagliacci : Si puo si puo (Leoncavallo). L'Arlesiana : Come due tizzi accesi (Cilea). Pique Dame : Ja vas ljublju (Tchaikovsky). Don Giovanni : Dah vieni alla finestra (Mozart). Zaide : Nur mutig mein Herz versuche dein Gluck (Mozart). Tannhauser : Oh du mein holder Abendstern (Wagner).

Like many well-schooled, intelligent singers, Keenlyside handles his voice very well and studies the languages he's asked to perform in. It wasn't a good idea to start out with Figaro's aria from the Barber of Seville, however. Keenlyside doesn't have boastful panache or humor, and the results sound forced. He seems to be shouting here and in the following aria form William Tell. Where many non-Italian baritones fall down is in Verdi -- even Hampson sounds like a fish out of water -- but Keenlyside gamely delivers three numbers from Don Carlo, Ballo in Maschera, and La Traviata. Surprise, surprise, he's quite sympathetic in all three and could easily be singing such roles at the Met.

Despite making a name in Mozart, Keenlyside offers a humorless aria of Papageno's, then switches gears with a lurch into verismo delivers Tonio's big number from Pagliacci, very effective in its robustness. The program ends with a beautiful, heartfelt rendition of the Evening Star aria from Tannhauser. Listening to Keenlyside's soaring legato, you feel that he deserves his reputation, even if the last dash of charisma is lacking."
A Funny Figaro? Go Figure
David Cady | Jersey City, NJ USA | 10/22/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)

"When was the last time you actually laughed while listening to "Largo al factotum?" Well, if you don't during Simon Keenlyside's rendition on this marvelous recital disc, I guarantee your money back. Well, I can't really make that promise, but I'd be awfully surprised if you didn't find his version not only beautifully sung, but very, very funny. And that's all one can hope for from a Figaro isn't it? Frankly, I can't fault a single one of Keenlyside's masterful performances on any of the 15 (count 'em, folks, 15) tracks. Regardless of the language, regardless of the role, he infuses each one with such artistry, intelligence and superb acting choices that it's as if we're hearing these ridiculously familiar arias for the very first time. And given the ubiquity of recording contracts being flung around these days, I'd say that's something very special indeed."
Very nice stuff....
Brett | New York | 01/20/2008
(4 out of 5 stars)

"I recently purchased this disc, and wasn't sure what I was getting into, only really listening to a couple tracks or so before buying. Keenlyside brings more maturity to these arias that many lyric baritones today don't really seem to do. In my opinion he is quite a versatile singer singing everything from the acrobatic "Largo al factotum" barber aria to arias by Leoncavallo, Massenet, Verdi, Bellini, Mozart, Ambroise Thomas, Tchaikovsky, and even Wagner. I was pleasantly surprised when I saw him put "Oh, du mein holder Abendstern" on this CD. Most is done very well though. All the Verdi on this CD is done quite well. He seems to keep a nice blend of dark and lighter sounds within his voice. Too many baritones seem to be either too dark or too light. Opposed to some other reviews, I personally like his "Ein Maedchen oder Weibchen" aria. It has that comic sound, that Papageno should always have. Also, the Muencher Rundfunkorchester plays very well. I studied in Europe last semester and was able to see them play. They are magnificent in every way, and in ways, more impressive than the Vienna Philharmonic. A good collection of music."