A rare collection of soprano/baritone duets and solos
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This CD is one of the most exquisite recordings, featuring beautiful duets of a baritone and soprano as well as solos. The selection is well thought of and with great care. Both Mr. Pons and Ms. Tokody bring out great dramatic effects in their expressions. Opening with the duet of Simon and Amelia/Maria, it captures a love and tenderness between the father and the daughter. In this duet, Mr. Pons is tenderness itself, in particular, in his last word of "figlia". Ms. Tokody's Maria responds to this tenderness with equally tender and loving daughter's instantaneous trust in Simon. This is a beautifully executed duet and is almost exactly the opposite of their duet in Aida, in which Mr. Pons expresses no fatherly tenderness and Ms. Tokody feels so much of a daughter's duty than a genuine love of a daughter. In Traviata, Germont's solo is followed by the duet with Violetta. Germont puts his own daughter's happiness before his son's lover. He is gentle but this gentleness arises from an appeal to a human compassion. This appeal is well contrasted with another appeal in Rigoletto, in which he is a broken hearted father, begging for a return of his daughter who is his world. Mr. Pons' Rigoletto is exceptionally beautiful, capturing opposing emotions of vengeance and appeal, and vengeance and love. His solo is very moving that it truly touches one's heart. Against this dark voice is Ms. Tokody's beautiful Gilda, who is torn between her love for the father and the duke. She knows her love for Rigoletto cannot be diminished by her love for the duke but Rigoletto refuses to accept that fact. Ms. Tokody expresses varying determinations of three women, who sacrifice themselves for their loves. In Violetta, Ms. Tokody's voice expresses a human frailty of sacrifice. This is followed by Leonora's suffering and despair that bring no consolation. The second Leonora (in Trovatore) on the other hand is firm and there is a joy in her voice when offering herself to the count. This duet of Leonora and the count is almost breathtaking - one with happiness against the hatred and vengeance of the other. There is no longer any love in Mr. Pons' voice toward Leonora. It is with vehemence and menace. In Aida, Ms. Tokody's voice changes from an indignant daughter to a daughter bound by her duty to her country. Mr. Pons's execution of "Non sei mia figlia! Dei Faraoni tu sei la schiava!" can send a chill down on one's spine. In Lauretta, Ms. Tokody demonstrates a well determined young girl whose love is everything to her. She knows her father will give in. The last duet "A Vucchella", is purely delightful. Unlike opera duets, this song brings two contrasting voices together. The entire program is beautifully put together and very gratifying."
WONDERFUL group of duets/arias!!!!
S. Bernard | Mesa, AZ | 09/10/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The previous review covered everything so well, but I had to add my voice to the discussion because this is one of my favorite CDs. The selection of music is wonderful and for a live recording, these singers are RIGHT on the money!
Juan Pons has one of the most beautiful Baritone voices ever to hit the planet. His lovely quality is so good, I'd listen to him sing the "proverbial" phone book!! At the same time though, as Rigoletto, his anger and forceful singing is exciting to hear.
Ilona Tokody is also one of my favorites. I've always thought her voice was very reminscent of Tebaldi's. She has a lovely quality, yet she also has that "spinto" edge that makes her singing soar over the orchestra. Also, her singing is always heartfelt- she never cheats or just cruises along- she invests her whole self in her songs.
As for this team together, they sound like they've been singing together for all their lives. Their duets are so well rehearsed, they seem unrehearsed! All of the selections are Verdi favorites (except for the charming encore of A'vucchella which is very sweet.)
The conducting is also very good- good tempi and never overpowering the singers. All songs are accompanied by orchestra except for the encore which is with piano, as it should be.
If I could give this 6 stars I would - FABULOUS SINGING, GREAT CD, WONDERFUL COMPOSER!"