Bel Canto

Our rating 
4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

COMPOSERS: Bellini,Donizetti and Verdi
LABELS: Opus Arte
ALBUM TITLE: Bel Canto
WORKS: Arias by Bellini, Donizetti and Verdi
PERFORMER: Jesús León (tenor); Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra/Toby Purser
CATALOGUE NO: OACD 9035 D

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There’s nothing like a tenor strutting his stuff; and it’s all there when the young Mexican Jesús León tackles ‘Amici miei’ from Donizetti’s La figlia del reggimento. León leaps up to that closing trio of top notes with all the swaggering confidence of the young Pavarotti who made this a signature aria at the beginning of his career.

Elsewhere, León sometimes plays it safe in his choice of tempos. Despite a faultless cornet-à-piston obbligato, ‘Povera Ernesto!’ from Don Pasquale sounds over planned. Everything is in its place vocally, but León never quite finds that essential Donizettian melancholy. Getting into vocal character is a familiar problem with singers recording recital discs before they have had an opportunity to sing the roles on stage. So León’s Nemorino is sad when he ought to be happy in ‘Una furtiva lagrima’.

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On the other hand an aria from Robert Devereux and the start of ‘A te, o cara’ from I puritani have you stretching for the rewind button. And no Nanetta in the world could resist León’s Fenton. This is the real stuff. Christopher Cook