Soroz‡bel, Vives, Serrano, Luna, Torroba, Guerrero, Cano, Soriano, Soutullo

COMPOSERS: Cano,Guerrero,Luna,Serrano,Soriano,Sorozábel,Soutullo,Torroba,Vives
LABELS: Virgin
ALBUM TITLE: Gitano
WORKS: Zarzuela arias by Sorozábel, Vives, Serrano, Luna, Torroba, Guerrero, Cano, Soriano & Soutullo
PERFORMER: Rolando Villazón (tenor); Orquesta de la Comunidad de Madrid/Plácido Domingo
CATALOGUE NO: 365 4742
For reasons that have something to do with language, and something to do with a lack of imagination among the rest of us, the distinctive genre of operetta known as zarzuela is still little known outside Spanishspeaking countries. This new collection sung by one leading Mexican tenor and conducted by another may alter that. It’s worth saying, though, that 15 of these items at one go is too much. A few at a time, and ideally sung with a wider range of tone colour than Villazón employs, would be perfect. Yet he throws himself at his material, and the dark passion of such pieces as the opening romance from Sorozábal’s La tabernera del puerto undoubtedly suits him well.

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Villazón’s virtues include an engagement with the texts, and some genuine touches of style. Conductor Domingo, who was born into a zarzuela troupe, enters fully into the spirit as well as the letter of some often delightful material.

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Highlights include extracts from Vives’s Doña Francisquita (the equal of any operetta, period), Moreno Torroba’s Luisa Fernanda (one of the last great zarzuelas) and Guerrero’s Los gavilanes. But there’s much worthwhile music in this album, and performed here with enough authentic spirit to make its proper mark. George Hall