LABELS: Opera Rara
ALBUM TITLE: Collection: Romantic Heroes
WORKS: Operatic arias by Pacini, Meyerbeer, Donizetti, Mercadante, Rossini,
PERFORMER: Bruce Ford (tenor), with Diana Montague, Renee Fleming, Alastair Miles; Geoffrey Mitchell Choir, Philharmonia Orchestra, Academy of St Martin in the Fields/David Parry
CATALOGUE NO: ORR 202
There are CDs of singers that one acquires because of the artist, and others that one acquires because of the repertoire being sung. I mean no disrespect to Bruce Ford, a fine American tenor heard in top form here, when I say that lovers of early 19th-century Italian opera would find this disc fascinating whoever (within reason!) the tenor was, for it contains seven items-six arias and a duet-from operas which are virtually unknown to modern audiences.
The opening number, a rousing aria from Pacini’s Carfo di Borgogna, is despatched vigorously by Ford, who is given fine support here and in two numbers by the Geoffrey Mitchell Choir. Alfredo’s aria from Donizetti’s opera about Alfred the Great is an engaging piece, and the other items, in particular the aria from Rossini’s absurd but entertaining Ricciardo e Zora/c/eareall highly enjoyable. Bruce Ford has few equals today in this kind of music, and in a lengthy duet from Donizetti’s Rosmonda d’lnghilterra he and the soprano Renee Fleming are both magnificent. Charles Osborne