Vincenzo La Scola: A Truly Great Tenor.
Rick Holden (sceptic.one@mindspring | Huntsville, AL | 10/24/1999
(5 out of 5 stars)
"With Carlo Bergonzi and Alfredo Krause in their 70's, Pavarotti in his mid-60's, and Domingo and Carreras not far behind, you might think we are about to suffer a shortage of tenors. Not so. The "new crop" is doing very well, thank you. Jose Cura, Ben Heppner, Roberto Alagna, Andrea Bocelli, Jerry Hadley, Kristjan Johansson, and others, are all sending those high C shivers up and down our collective spines. And now comes perhaps the most promising of all, Vincenzo La Scola; here at last is the next Bergonzi (even while that esteemed tenor, at 75, is still very much alive and concertising). La Scola seems equally adept in lyric and dramatic rolls, the popular canzoni, and even the arie antique. The control is incredible: marvelous phrasing, perfect diction, delicacy when called for, ringing high notes, a wonderful mezzo-voce, beautiful diminuendos, and control, control, control. Bergonzi has been called The Tenor's Tenor, and the Musicianly Tenor, and there is already ample evidence that La Scola may shortly justly deserve these same accolades. A bit more mature than some of the other "newcomers" (born in 1958), he also has a lot of experience, having appeared on most of the world's great operas stages. There have been recordings, too, but not as many as there ought to be. This is partly politics and luck, of course. Pavarotti is London's main tenor, Domingo is RCA's, and Carreras is Angel's. There's only so much room, unfortuneately. Try to find recordings by Lamberti or Aragall (both first class singers now in late middle age) and you find only a small handful. I hope he receives a good contract from one of the major labels soon. Here is a tenor who deserves Pavarotti-like exposure (if that coterie of PR experts and legend-makers are listening: Boys, get busy, you've got a new phenom on your hands, a new "household word" to be made). As I said at the outset, there are many good, new tenors today, almost an embarassment of riches, one might say. But make a list: breath control, secure top, middle, and bottom, diction, beauty of tone, good mezzo-voce, a feeling for the music and the ability to mold the voice to that music's requirements, a fullness of voice, control and placement, near-effortless high C's, great diminuendo and accelerendo, and a wonderful and personal relationship with his audience (much like Pavarotti); now get your pencil and when La Scola sings, you'll check off every item. Though slightly higher, the voice is so much like Bergonzi's it's uncanny. This is not to say that La Scola's voice is not unique, for it is easily identified in the "crowd" of tenors, past and present. But Bergonzi is the benchmark and, as far as I can tell, La Scola comes up to the mark."