WORKS: I Capuleti e i Montecchi
PERFORMER: Anna Netrebko, Elina Garanča, Joseph Calleja, Robert Gleadow, Tiziano Bracci; Vienna Singakademie, Vienna Symphony/Fabio Luisi
CATALOGUE NO: 477 8031
If you believe that I Capuleti e i Montecchi is apprentice work, young Bellini on his way to becoming the mature Bellini of Norma or I puritani, then this is the recording to change your mind. Fabio Luisi conducts the overture as if it were challenging Rossini at his own game and Elina Garanča as his Romeo in the last grand bel canto ‘breeches’ role is encouraged to out-sing any of the older maestro’s cross-dressing heroes.
Garanča is the best reason for cherishing this fine recording. There isn’t a lyric mezzo-soprano who can currently hold a candle to the Latvian in this repertoire. Her cavatina ‘Se Romeo t’uccise un figlio’ has all the impetuousness of self-confident youth facing down carping middle age. Her idiomatic legato seems to revel in Bellini’s melodic inventions.
In their great Act I duet Garanča’s Romeo finds a Juliet worthy of her gifts. But elsewhere Anna Netrebko disappoints. There’s no doubting the beauty or the power of her voice, but her diction is uncertain and as so often on disc she seems emotionally disconnected from the character she is singing.
Robert Gleadow is a noble Lorenzo and Joseph Calleja a Tebaldo in the Juan Diego Flórez style. But it’s Luisi and Garanča who put all recorded rivals to flight. Christopher Cook