GounodMassenet

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5.0 out of 5 star rating 5.0

COMPOSERS: GounodMassenet
LABELS: Virgin
ALBUM TITLE: Opera Arias
WORKS: Opera Arias
PERFORMER: Rolando VillazonNatalie DessayRadio France Philharmonic OrchestraEveline Pido
CATALOGUE NO: 545 7192
It’s a mark of burgeoning interest in

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the French repertoire that the young

Mexican tenor Rolando Villazón

can devote his second recital disc

(the first was reviewed in May 2004)

to the works of two masters of the

genre out of fashion until recently.

There are well known arias here, of

course, but others which have had

few outings on disc and one – the

piece from Massenet’s 1891 Le mage

– which is claimed as a first recording

(it isn’t: the heroic French tenor

Léon Escalaïs recorded it in 1905). More important is the fact that

Rolando Villazón proves well suited

to the repertoire. His French is

clear, for a start, he’s an impressive

musician and he is able to grade

the dynamics of his voice to shape

every phrase imaginatively. Further

engagement will doubtless come

when he’s delivered more of these

roles on stage, but already there’s

an appreciable connection between

singer, character and situation. The

accompaniments are finely managed,

and star coloratura soprano Natalie

Dessay makes a small but convincing

contribution to the Manon extract.

The sound, too, is bright and

well balanced, allowing Villazón’s

colouristic range to register as

well as the fact that his voice has

developed impressive power in

the higher range. Altogether a

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fine achievement. George Hall