Rossini, Bellini and Donizetti

COMPOSERS: Bellini and Donizetti,Rossini
LABELS: Decca
ALBUM TITLE: Juan Diego Flórez
WORKS: Arias for Rubini by Rossini, Bellini and Donizetti
PERFORMER: Juan Diego Flórez (tenor); Orchestra e Coro dell’Accademia di Santa Cecilia/Roberto Abbado
CATALOGUE NO: 475 9079
If you need a peg for a certain kind of tenor’s hat then the name of Giovanni Battista Rubini certainly makes marketing sense. But to suggest that Juan Diego Flórez is the modern day counterpart of one of the greatest of all early 19th-century bel canto tenors is a disservice to both singers. We’ve only hearsay about how Rubini sounded and Flórez is Floréz even when he sings some of Rubini’s repertoire.

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There’s a beguiling sweetness in the middle voice in ‘Tu sorda ai miei lamenti’, Uberto’s cavatina from Rossini’s La donna del lago, an elegant legato, crisp diction as throughout and an unerring instinct about how to phrase Rossini. He knows how to phrase Donizetti, too, but with Bellini, who particularly cut his musical cloth to suit Rubini, Flórez is notably less successful singing ‘Per te di vane lagrime’ from Il pirata. Here, and elsewhere, the head voice is technically brilliant but it is also seems less than truly lyrical.

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Fine playing from the Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia directed by Roberto Abbado and no Flórez fan will want to forgo the lung-squeezing top note at the end of ‘Corriam! voliam!’ from Guglielmo Tell. Even Rubini you feel would have been on his feet. Christopher Cook