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No Tenors Allowed: Famous Duets for Baritone and Bass
Giuseppe Verdi, Vincenzo Bellini, Gaetano Donizetti
No Tenors Allowed: Famous Duets for Baritone and Bass
Genre: Classical
 
  •  Track Listings (8) - Disc #1

This disc is remarkable in many ways. Not only does it bring together two of opera's reigning lower-voiced superstars, it shows them at their best and presents, in addition, repertoire we rarely get to hear. In the past, S...  more »

      
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This disc is remarkable in many ways. Not only does it bring together two of opera's reigning lower-voiced superstars, it shows them at their best and presents, in addition, repertoire we rarely get to hear. In the past, Samuel Ramey has occasionally come across as bland and Thomas Hampson as just a bit too eager for a man with what is essentially a very lyric baritone voice. But their chemistry here works: Ramey is filled with passion--some of it comic (as Don Pasquale), some of it vitriolic (as Fiesco), and some of it loony (as Attila); throughout, his burnished tone never lets him down. Hampson is charming and in handsome voice as well--equally light and patterful when comic (a delicious Malatesta), and nicely dire (Ezio and Rodrigue). He isn't up to Simon Boccanegra's stature either vocally or emotionally (for that, listen to the classic performance of Piero Cappuccilli, but the sheer loveliness of his singing is enough to carry the day. A must for fans of either gent, and an intelligent, unhackneyed collection of music to boot. --Robert Levine

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CD Reviews

Voices of power
E. A. Lovitt | Gladwin, MI USA | 03/21/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)

"It had always been my impression that when basses and baritones got together to sing, they were either intent on murdering each other, or else they were engaged in a jolly, male-bonding patter song. "No Tenors Allowed" (NTA) has examples of both of these types of duets. But the lower voices are also opera's authority figures, so we also have a smattering of Doges and Kings on this CD.The basso cantante of Samuel Ramey and the baritone of Thomas Hampson swirl together like chocolate liqueur in coffee. This CD vibrates with dark sonics. Both artists bring their considerable powers of interpretation to these roles--no fooling around with buffo here, just wonderful singing. There are a total of eight duets by Cimarosa, Donizetti, Bellini, and Verdi on this CD. Among my favorites:"Cheti, cheti immantinente" from Donizetti's "Don Pasquale"--The elderly Don Pasquale (Ramey) and his personal physician Malatesta (Hampson) plot to catch Pasquale's young 'bride' in the garden with her lover. This might not sound like a particularly jolly situation, but the duet captures the verve of a hilarious plot--lots of "oh ho's," "ha ha's," and "hee hee's" scattered throughout--the very epitome of bass-baritone hilarity. Listening to this duet, I'm almost tempted to regret Ramey's preference for serious roles over lighter repertory like "Don Pasquale." His old buffoon schemes and whines and chuckles without a trace of vulgarity, just pure musicality. Both singers are patter-perfect. "Suona ogni labbro il mio nome" from Verdi's "Simon Boccanegra"--This is the first of two great duets between adversaries Jacopo Fiesco, patrician and currently Doge of Genoa (Ramey) and Simon Boccanegra, a plebian and the future Doge (Hampson). Fiesco still hasn't forgiven Boccanegra for stealing the love of his daughter, Maria, who has borne Boccanegra a daughter out of wedlock. In this duet, Ramey's fury contrasts vividly with Hampson's pleading, "Padre mio, pieta t'implora..." as the baritone tells him of the loss of his little daughter (Fiesco's granddaughter). What Boccanegra does not yet know is that his lover, Maria has died. This duet is another fine example of a Verdian father-daughter heartbreaker, in which both men are mourning the loss of a daughter. Hampson sings with dramatic conviction, almost a sweet sound compared to the menacing undercurrent of Ramey's bass, but also dignified.If you are a fan of the lower fach in Italian opera, NTA is a 'must' for your CD library."
A Masterful Double Bill
Martin W. Eldred | Eagle River, Alaska United States | 08/12/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)

"This is one cd that I may actually wear out. I love this collection! What a marvelous idea, to highlight the most under-represented opera format--the bass/baritone duet--and bring together two of the current best--Ramey and Hampson--to pull it off. I am a bass-baritone and find all these selections a wonderful change of pace from the usuall opera recording. The liner notes are hilarious, with their tongue-in-cheek (or not) poke at tenors. My only complaint, and it is a significant one, is this the libreto. Come on, guys, no English (or German or French) translations? It would have helped with the duets from lessor known operas, Cimarosa's, for instances. But all in all, an excellent effort that I recommend highly!"
Amazing
Martin W. Eldred | 04/12/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Two more beautiful male voices you'll never hear. Ramey's strength is his astonishing technical expertise and Hampson's is his musicality and expressiveness. They both sound like they're having a ball singing together. My kids (ages 7 and 4) love this CD. I would have liked a greater variety of selections (half are Verdi duets), but this is one of the best of the many opera CDs I own. Ramey is one of the best basses in the world and one of the few who sounds absolutely clear and not muddy when he sings. My favorite of his recordings is "Le Nozze di Figaro" with Kiri Te Kanawa, directed by Solti. (I saw him in Simon Boccanegra, by the way, and he has magnificent stage presence.) This was the first time I'd heard Hampson, but this CD made me want to order more of his recordings."