WORKS: O soave fanciulla; Tonight; Nuit d’ivresse; Al dolce guidami
PERFORMER: Roberto Alagna (tenor), Angela Gheorghiu (soprano); Orchestra of the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden/Richard Armstrong
CATALOGUE NO: CDC 5 56117 2 DDD
The concept of real-life lovers who are fast-rising opera singers making a recital of love stories in music is a dream come true. No doubt the whole idea will propel this disc into the best-seller lists. There are many exciting moments where the unique timbres of these singers make us fully aware of why such a fuss is being made of them. Alagna is a sensitive, intuitive musician who can shape lines and spin top notes with his wonderful, soaring tenor to thrilling effect.
Gheorghiu has the most unusual cloudy texture to her voice which is bewitching. At times, both singers have a tendency to sacrifice pitch for a momentary intensity of emotion and sound. The recital is framed by the two most successful tracks, the ‘Cherry Duet’ from L’amico Fritz and ‘O soave fanciulla’ from La bohème, both exquisitely sung. Least impressive are ‘Tonight’ from West Side Story – just not clear enough English – and the Act III duet from Don Pasquale, rhythmically mauled to distortion.
Both the Gounod and the Charpentier produce some fairly frazzled French and the glorious Berlioz ‘Nuit d’ivresse’ does not quite ignite. Gheorghiu delivers a stunning ‘Al dolce guidami’ and both artists’ dedication to beautifully crafted phrases is an absolute joy to hear throughout. Elise McDougall