Love Duets

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Album title:
Love Duets
Composer(s):
Bernstein, Donizetti, Gounod, Loesser and Wright and Forest, Mascagni, Massenet, Puccini, Rodgers & Hammerstein, Verdi
Works:
Duets by Massenet, Mascagni, Verdi, Donizetti, Gounod, Verdi, Puccini, Bernstein, Rodgers and Hammerstein, Loesser and Wright & Forest
Performer:
Ailyn Pérez (soprano), Stephen Costello (tenor); BBC Symphony Orchestra/Patrick Summers
Label:
Warner
Catalogue Number:
0825646334858
Performance:
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Recording :
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3
Reviewer:
BBC Music Magazine
Love Duets

Love’s young dream is the message on the cover, but the music within tells a different story – of jealousy, torn loyalties, fear and forbidden feelings. Ailyn Peréz and Stephen Costello, real-life husband and wife, are already much admired on both sides of the Atlantic. They have programmed a demanding set of dramatic duets for their debut CD, from Donizetti to Puccini and Gounod to Massenet, not forgetting a trip down Broadway that seems all but obligatory now for American artists (though Ailyn Peréz is Mexican).

Husband and wife sing with energy and style, but there’s a veiled quality to Peréz’s middle voice and some obtrusive breathing. Costello, meanwhile, never quite decides what kind of tenor he ought to be. He may well be light and lyric as Donizetti’s Nemorino, but where’s the strapping tone required for the Duke in Rigoletto? And are the head tones he finds for Faust a little too nasal?

To put it plainly, neither singer has yet completely mastered the art of vocal characterisation. So Peréz’s Violetta might just as well be Mimì or Adina. And Julie and Billy from Carousel would feel just as at home in West Side Story. Love’s Young Dream needs to feel the cold wind of experience on its neck.

Christopher Cook

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