ALBUM TITLE: Anna Netrebko & Rolando Villazón Duets
WORKS: Works by Bizet, Donizetti, Gounod, Puccini, Tchaikovsky & Verdi
PERFORMER: Anna Netrebko (soprano), Rolando Villazón (tenor); Staatskapelle Dresden/Nicola Luisotti
CATALOGUE NO: 477 6456
For all the sickly scent of hype which clings about this, there’s something undeniably special here. Netrebko and Villazón deliver enough sheer charisma to justify the fuss; but that said, they fall short of the visceral excitement you’d expect from a youthful Domingo or Te Kanawa, or even themselves elsewhere.
Their programme looks varied enough, but it develops a smoothed out, processed feeling. Bohème they inhabit almost too effortlessly, even if Netrebko’s high C turns slightly acid, and Lucia and Romeo sound equally sweet and low-voltage. More involving are Manon, the Pearl Fishers duet (no, not that one) and Tchaikovsky’s Iolanta, even if Villazón’s Russian is less convincing than Netrebko’s Spanish in the rather anodyne zarzuela finale. Certain distinctions make this partnership seem less natural than, say, Gedda and de los Angeles: Villazón’s approach is the more nuanced, Netrebko’s more histrionic. For now, though, they’re highly listenable, if undemanding, company. Michael Scott Rohan