Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
|Roberto Alagna, London Voices, Antonio Pappano|
Verdi: Il Trovatore; Roberto Alagna/Angela Gheorghiu
Il trovatore has been one of Verdi's most beloved, enduringly popular operas ever since its first performance 150 years ago. The libretto is notorious as one of the most improbable, confused, and confusing of its kind, but... more »
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Il trovatore has been one of Verdi's most beloved, enduringly popular operas ever since its first performance 150 years ago. The libretto is notorious as one of the most improbable, confused, and confusing of its kind, but in Verdi's hands its one-dimensional stock figures become flesh-and-blood characters whose fears, hopes, and suffering we can easily identify with. The music encompasses the heights and depths of human emotion, and the vocal writing demands singers of enormous vocal and expressive range. This recording is a bit strange and not entirely satisfying, partly because some of the intrinsically fine singers seem miscast. Angela Gheorghiu's voice is lovely, with a velvety warmth and a beautiful high register; the low notes sound uncomfortable and not always in tune. She is best in the lyrical arias. The first one has a touching tremulousness, but generally her Leonora is a little pale. Thomas Hampson is, as always, a commanding presence, but his thoughtful, restrained approach makes Luna's raw, vengeful fury seem contrived and artificial. Ildebrando D'Arcangelo's Ferrando is excellent; Larissa Diadkova sings very well, but does not get inside Azucena's haunted, tormented brooding and hallucinatory madness. Roberto Alagna is most disappointing. He slides, scoops, sobs, and exaggerates everything. Indeed, if truth be told, he yells, but suddenly takes a single note mezza voce for no discernible reason. His Manrico has no subtlety or tenderness, and the constantly high volume seems at variance with the singing style of a "Troubadour." It is the orchestra and chorus who emerge as the ultimate heroes of the recording. --Edith Eisler
Where is my Romeo...?
lagunatitou | Laguna Beach, CA USA | 09/21/2002
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Altogether, this recording is a nice piece of music but I tend to think, though, that we owe it more to Verdi than to the interpreters...Manrico's character is defined by Alagna himself as a lover and a warrior. That is rather a simplistic definition of the character but fair enough... Roberto Alagna has proven himself to be one of the greatest lover on stage in the opera world over the past 10 to 15 years...in Romeo & Juliette (Gounod), La Boheme (Puccini), La Traviata (Verdi), Lucia di Lammermoor + L'elisir d'amore (Donizetti). His voice is the epitome of the lyrical tenor's voice...with its warmth, mellowness, its pure singing line, easy high notes... amazing piani/ssimi... Well, I really am a fan of this amazing and naturally talented singer. I went to see him everywhere sing all these aforementioned parts + Carmen at the Met... and what a thrill to be amongst the lucky audience... But there is unfortunately no steel...no metallic color in Alagna's voice...you can cheat on the color but that will be at the expense of the vocal capabilities... In this particular role, Alagna is a casting mistake...vocally at least...His interpretation is clever and well-thought...He confers his character the appropriate pathos...too much perhaps for an opera that appears to sort of characterize the end of the Bel Canto era and the beginning of the romantic music period...Most his lyrical moments are well-sung although he often looses the control of his vibrato as soon as the voice get exposed - a constant and controlles vibrato over the entire vocal range remains a basic characteristic of a sound opera voice - ... In all the passages di forza...he sings on the capital whereas he should be singing with the interests. He tries to compensate for his lack of heroic vocal color with his radiant energy...it works most of the time...the voice stumbles too often though...his high Cs lack freedom and harmonics and remain stuck in his throat... I look forward to listen to such a great artist in Faust (NY) next year but he should have waited much longer before taping this role... God knows tenors have a big ego...what about Alagna's :)) Where is my Romeo...?His wife, Angela Gheorghiu is too me the good surprise of this recording... Well, she dares singing the cavatina right after the Miserere which is pretty unusual and courageous. I only heard it by Maria Callas at her top in the early 50s -in a recording :)- opposite Kurt Baum... This sopran, here, has a wonderful voice and she does know how to play with it...she never sings at 100% of her capabilities in this role. She is always in control of her talent...She is a very refined interpret although maybe less inspired and colorful than her husband...She is so far...to me...a better Leonora than Violetta (La Traviata)... Her coloratura skills have developed and I have enjoyed listening to some moments of pure vocal grace in this record...What about Thomas Hampson...well, he does not have to color of the role, the vocal power and no longer the technical skills for the count di luna's part...particularly in the beautiful aria 'Il balen del suo sorriso'...where his high notes are a catastrophe...on the 1st /e/ especially... He remains a very clever and sensitive interpret though...probably more at ease in german lieder or Mozart's roles...For an orchestral perspective, Muti's version is the most complete one and Muti there demonstrates all aspects of his talent both as a musician and a conductor...forget about the singers though...Karajan/Corelli/Price live version remains the reference to me but the sound quality is very questionable... An early Callas or an early Leontine Price have set Leonora's role standards and Angela Gheorghiu lives up to them to a certain extent. THE Manrico remains to me Franco Corelli, or even a young Domingo (early 70s)...a version with Pavarotti is great just for the mere beauty of his singing although he does not have the spinto metal for the part...but not as a major interpret of the role. Well, altogether...this remains a very decent version of the opera with its flaws and qualities... I bought this CDs because I am an Alagna's fan and it made me fall in love with...his wife...oops"
NOT THE GREATEST 'TROVATORE', IT'S A PRETTY GOOD ONE
L. Mitnick | Chicago, Illinois United States | 10/30/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"For some unexplained reasons, there seems to be a lot of hostility and jealousy where Alagna and Gheorghiu are concerned. I don't understand why. In this operatic glamour-starved generation, there are few singers who can generate the sheer excitement that these two can. They are certainly very attractive people, and they have certainly demonstrated that they can be wonderful together (as their recordings of "Manon", "Boheme", "Romeo et Juliette", and "Werther" have so beautifully demonstrated), but each has had their share of negative press, and, of course, there have been some rather notorious cancellations. Be all that as it may, it is their "Trovatore" recording that is under consideration here. The opera may be a little "advanced" for them at this stage of their respective careers (Gheorghiu, I know, has not attempted this role on stage, and who knows if she ever will?) I hear nothing offensive in Alagna's Manrico, but nor do I hear anything profound. Gheorghiu sings a very beautiful Leonora, certainly one which can be favorably compared to Zinka Milanov or Leontyne Price. There are times when her middle register takes on a Callas-like color, and it's very distinctive. Larissa Diadkova sings a straight forward Azucena, and doesn't resort to the histrionic excesses that are so easy to put into this "blow the house down" role. Thomas Hampson has an incredibly beautiful baritone, almost too beautiful for the villan di Luna, but it's a pleasure to listen to. I agree with other reviewers here who praise the orchestra and chorus under the direction of Antonio Pappano. Both really impact this performance (never have I heard the Anvil Chorus) sound so vivid and colorful)in a big way. No - this is not the greatest "Trovatore" ever recorded, but all in all, it's a pretty good one. A great one? Probably two monophonic recordings": the 1952 Bjoerling-Milanov on RCA, and the 1962 Salzburg-Von Karajan performance with Leontyne Price and Franco Corelli. Sopranos and tenors like those don't exist anymore."
3.75 Stars to be correct for this Trovatore
Jose Antonio Ponce Mendez | New York, NY USA | 02/07/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
Opening: D'Arcangelo - Excellent!! His deep velvet tone lends itself organically to the music of Ferrando. His Abita zingara has the eerie darkness needed to make the 16th notes figures of the aria pulse on the back of the listeners neck. Sull' orio dei tetti as conducted by Pappano is probably the best combo conducted between Ferrando and chorus I have heard. The tempo is just fast enough to engage the listener completely.
Tacea la notte placida - Gheorghiu does a very good attempt at the heavy phrasing of one of Verdi's most vocally challenging arias. Her lower register is not developed enough for Leonora. The role demands more dramatics in the voice than Gheorghiu gave. On the other hand, the cabaletta Di tale amor, with its fast coloratura passages sits better on Gheorghiu's voice than the cavatina.
Infida! Qual voce! - The fastest trio I have ever heard. The orchestra and singers followed Pappano like a hawk. Singing was decent. Alagna seems to scream his way through the trio overpowering the rest. The sliding and crying is not good on the voice. A great attempt is made at the end of the aria when both soprano and tenor take the crowd pleasing high D flat.
Act II -
Stride la vampa: This aria lacks life, focus, color, and intensity. The sound might be there, but everything else is missing. Diadkova has the potential to bring Azucena to life; however, her attempt does not succeed.
Mal raggendo: Great singing in this aria. One can really hear the French ping from Alagna voice in the phrasing. At times he can get over-dramatic, but never loses the intensity.
Il balen: Hampson delivers a lyrically and emotionally charged aria that reminds me of a Sherill Milnes recording with Price, Domingo, Cossotto and Mehta conducting (which is without exception, the ONE to own vocally speaking). Hampson ring is pleasant throughout and his flexibility with the line is excellent. The caballeta afterward is a reminder of the flexibility and complete control that he has over his instrument.
Quintet and double chorus: The quintet is okay. Nothing unusual. I really believe that Gheorghiu could have given more volume to the high notes in order to balance out everyone else. The score does state `con tutta forza'. Ferrando is excellent, Count and Troubadour great. I have not mentioned the chorus once in this review and it is for a reason: They are the best part! All throughout Act I and II they have been almost perfect. The diction, phrasing and near perfection with markings are unbelievable. GREAT JOB!!
The men's chorus at the beginning of this act is very well done. Also, great conducting and orchestral playing as well.
Giorni poveri - one of the many arias that Verdi wrote for a mezzo. Technically speaking, it is very challenging for the singer to keep the gas going through this aria and through the trio that follows. Diadkova does alright. Once again, it sound very superficial and in some places the listener can hear Azucena tiring vocally. Verdi Mezzos are very seldom nowadays.
Cavatina - Ah si, ben mio : Very well done. Some scooping. Also a very interesting mezza voce on the cadenza. The passion is there and one can hear the acting.
Cabaletta - Di quella pira: Alagna has some lungs! This is perhaps the most adventurous cabaletta I have heard from Mr. Alagna. There are uncalled scoops and unneeded "cries." However, the rest is very bravura singing almost Del Monaco style but a little over the top. The premature high C at the end is a nod to the tenor made by the tenor. Not needed but it doesn't hurt. If you have it, sing it until you crack.
This act in particular rest solely on the shoulders of the soprano. It is her moment, the moment where she can bring the audience to their feet. The latter is possible with the right soprano and an educated audience. An example is the unbelievable Leonora portrayed by American soprano Sondra Radvanovsky given last June at L.A. Opera. She commanded the act and brought everyone, I mean everyone to their feet after her D'Amor sull' ali rosee. Everyone talked about her dark and agile voice. Sondra is worth listening to for a true Verdi soprano sound. Now back to business..
D'amor sull'ali rosee - I return to the issue of vocal color. Gheorghiu has lovely tones throughout her singing and her high is as delicate and sensual as a rose. However, there lack the depth that true dramatic sopranos lend naturally that Gheorghiu lacks. She understands the words and has the idea of line, but does not have il colore di donna abbandonata .
Miserere - Better due to the chorus.
Duet between Manrico and Azucena: Best singing that Diadkova has sung on this recording. Her tempi and subtleness with Verdi's writing is excellent. Alagna really understands Manrico. The latter is heard throughout this duet and the whole recording. Aside from the scoops and cries, he does a very good job. He has the instrument.
Conclusion: 3.75 stars out of 5. Chorus is EXCELLENT. I applaud: Ferrando, Conte and Manrico. Disappointed with: Azucena and Leonora. Interesting take on conducting I'll have another listen to make that decision. Enjoy!