Rossini, Verdi, Bizet, Puccini, Bernstein etc

COMPOSERS: Bernstein etc,Bizet,Puccini,Rossini,Verdi
ALBUM TITLE: The Berlin Concert, Live from the ‘Waldbáhne’
WORKS: Favourites by Rossini, Verdi, Bizet,Puccini, Bernstein and more
PERFORMER: Plácido Domingo, Anna Netrebko, Rolando Villazón; Orchester der Deutschen oper Berlin/Marco Armiliato
CATALOGUE NO: 073 4302 (NTSC system; dts 5.1; 16.9 picture ratio)
Bad news for those who don’t believe crowd-pleasing can produce fine performances – and this is some crowd. Berlin’s Waldbühne (‘Woodland Stage’) is a massive Nazi-era outdoor bowl seating something like 20,000 people, and these three names filled it to overflowing. For all the reek of marketing hype, there’s a real sense of occasion, our greatest living tenor benignly crowning superstar successors who promise comparable art and intelligence. Domingo, though, noticeably opens proceedings by reminding us, in an amazingly fresh L’Arlesiana aria and Otello duet, that there are still places younger tenors are yet to reach. Rolando Villazón makes a restrained debut with unfamiliar Massenet, and joins Domingo, temporarily baritonal, in the Pearl Fishers duet – tastelessly shorn of its confrontational middle section. Anna Netrebko rather overpowers the guileless ‘O mio babbino caro’, her lush tones more at home as Desdemona, in Lehár’s ‘Meine Lippen’, and in a splendid ‘O soave fanciulla’ with Villazón. As Musetta in the extended encores she pointedly abandons the stage microphones to fill the whole vast space with sensuous tone, while Villazón equally brings the house down – figuratively speaking – with a manic ‘La danza’. Matters conclude with Traviata and ‘You are my heart’s delight’ strung out between all the singers in competitive Three Tenors fashion – tacky, but fun. Marco Armiliato and the Berlin players provide lively support and pleasant entr’actes in an evening of unashamed enjoyment. Michael Scott Rohan