WORKS: Arias from Poliuto, La favorite,
PERFORMER: Roberto Alagna (tenor), Angela Gheorghiu (soprano); London Voices, LPO/Evelino Pidò
CATALOGUE NO: CDC 5 57302 2
With the exceptions of the arias from L’elisir d’amore – an opera he has sung on stage and recorded complete – these are mostly new items to Alagna’s discography. His inner knowledge of the workings of Nemorino in Donizetti’s comedy shows in his verbal engagement, which is more intense here than elsewhere in the collection.
There’s some evidence, too, of a harsher quality, particularly under pressure, than one has grown used to from this voice. The notorious nine top Cs in ‘Pour mon âme’ (La fille du régiment) are clearly hard work, and Alagna sounds stressed by the heavy finish to Pollione’s aria (Norma), a role usually cast with a bigger voice than his essentially lyric tenor.
There are some nice things nevertheless, particularly in the lighter-voiced Bellini items from Puritani and Sonnambula, where varied dynamics are often gracefully employed. In other pieces one would welcome more nuance – rather too much of the Favorite scene is delivered at a steady mezzo-forte. Some worrying elements, then, in a recital that should have shown the singer at his best in largely congenial repertoire, but in practice does so only fitfully. George Hall