Villazon Give His All -- Sometimes Too Much
Janet Bedell | Baltimore, Maryland USA | 04/30/2008
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This is an exciting disk, sung with passionate conviction by one of the finest tenors in the world today. But speaking as a committed Villazón fan, I have to admit that it has its flaws and does not show this highly gifted artist at his very best. The repertoire Rolando has selected here does indeed contain "buried treasures" -- such as the exquisitely beautiful aria"La dea di tutti i cor" from Mercadante's "Il Giuramento" and the superbly moving "Tenda natal" from Ponchielli's unknown "The Prodigal Son." And then there's that perfect example of an ardent Italian lovesong "Io conosco un giardino" from Pietri's "Maristella," which Villazón sings absolutely gorgeously (this is the one you won't be able to get out of your head!). But too many of the arias here, including the title song from "La Gioconda," force Rolando to go well beyond his best lyric fach into spinto territory that presses his lovely instrument to its limit. His sound, though thrillingly intense and masculine, then starts to sound pressured and strained. This CD also was recorded just a few months before he collapsed with a general physical breakdown, and giving as much as he does here, you can cetainly understand why. Fortunately, he seemed to be in remarkably strong voice at these recording sessions, and he sails through the brutally difficult aria from Donizetti's "Poliuto" like a champion, capping it with a fabulous, long sustained high C. But the best numbers are those in which he can relax and sing more lyrically, such as the two arias from Cilea's "Adriana Lecouvreur" and from Boito's "Mefistofele" -- all nobly and expressively done. Verdi's well-known "Quando le sere al placido" is also wonderfully sung with the superb legato phrasing for which Villazón is renowned.
I give this four stars, but with hopes that he'll return to more lyrical repertoire -- as he seems now to be doing -- in the future. So buy this CD for the interesting rep and to hear Rolando flying excitingly on the edge of the possible. But his first three solo CDs for Virgin plus his Monteverdi disk display the beauty of his voice far more effectively."
5th Gear, Mostly
Michael Frohlichstein | New Jersey | 05/01/2008
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Imagine driving on an unfamiliar road in a very luxurious auto. Imagine that the car seemed to only want to go in overdrive. The experience would be thrilling but ultimately exhausting.
Listening to Rolando Villazon's recent release is like having that exhausting adventure. He seems to need to push his wonderful spinto sound well into helden territory. Why?
When I listen to such a superb voice, I want a feeling of being transported to another realm, not blasted into another reality.
Buy this album. It contains great singing. Be warned-don't listen to the whole disk in one sitting. If you're like me, you'll feel the need to quickly down shift."
Michael Beals | Los Angeles, CA USA | 06/13/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This disc is featured by Gramophone Magazine as "Editor's Choice" in Opera for the Month of July!"