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Duets by Bizet, Boito, Donizetti, Verdi, Gounod, Lara and F. Hermann

Our rating 
3.0 out of 5 star rating 3.0

Works by Bizet; Boito; Donizetti; Verdi; Gounod; Lara; F. Hermann
Rolando Villazón (tenor), Ildar Abdrazakov (bass); Orchestre Métropolitain de Montréal/Yannick Nézet-Séguin
DG 479 6901


This is boys having fun. And the CD is at its best when the composer is having fun too. So Rolando Villazón and Ildar Abdrazakov make the most of Donizetti’s Act I duet from L’eslisir d’amore, with Villazón a plaintive love-sick Nemorino and Abdrazakov a snake-like Dulcamara. They are less successful in Don Pasquale when Pasquale tells his nephew Ernesto that he’s getting married. The Russian is hardly a buffo bass, and here and elsewhere his diction is distinctly clotted.

Villazón, however, is in good voice, notably in the most fascinating number in this recital, an extended scene from Boito’s Mefistofele. He’s properly world weary, a low hanging soul for Abdrazakov’s silky tempter to pluck down.

No tenor/bass-baritone recital nowadays would be complete without Bizet’s duet from Les pêcheurs de perles. Here the voices are very forward and the orchestra kept at a distance. It’s a showstopper which ought to stop hearts but here it lacks emotional punch. Indeed Yannick Nézet-Séguin doesn’t always balance his singers and his orchestra with the finesse that this repertoire requires, with thumping drums at the end of the Boito, and a slightly bass-heavy orchestra in Gounod’s Faust.


Christopher Cook