WORKS: Arias from Lucio Silla, La finta semplice, Il sogno di Scipione, La finta giardiniera, Il rè pastore, Idomeneo, Don Giovanni, Così fan tutte, La Clemenza di Tito
PERFORMER: Jeremy Ovenden (tenor); Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment/Jonathan Cohen
CATALOGUE NO: SIGCD 251
An English tenor currently of high standing in leading European musical venues, Jeremy Ovenden has planned his richly rewarding Mozart arias disc as a double tribute – to the composer of whose roles he has become a notable performer, and to Italy, the country in which, like Mozart, he accomplished early career milestones. All-Italian in language, the programme adds up to an enlightening illustration of, in the singer’s words, ‘how the young Mozart changed and became the Mozart we know today’.
It’s a fiercely taxing selection, requiring by turns agility in florid passagework (in, for instance, Ottavio’s ‘Il mio tesoro’ and Tito’s ‘Se all’impero’), smoothly sustained lyricism across a wide compass and, in the earlier buffa and semiseria items, characterful articulation of detail. In technical terms, and particularly in his outstandingly idiomatic Italian enunciation, Ovenden proves complete master of his chosen repertory – as his delivery of the long concert aria ‘Misero! o sogno’ shows perhaps best of all.
For some tastes, his vibrant voice may lack traditional Mozartian mellifluousness. But for its artistic use, and for the close partnership Ovenden achieves with the OAE under Jonathan Cohen, I have only admiration. Max Loppert