Tenor Arias by Bellini, Buzzi-Peccia, Cardillo, Di Capua, Falvo, Gastaldon, Innocenzi, Leoncavallo, Mazzucchi, Puccini, Respighi, Tagliaferri, Tosti, Trapani/Lange and Valente
Freddie De Tommaso (tenor); London Philharmonic Orchestra/Renato Balsadonna
Decca 485 1509 53:18 mins
Listen to Freddie De Tommaso at full throttle and you’ll need to lie down in a darkened room. Passione is singing in the tradition of De Tommaso’s hero Franco Corelli: stylish and heartfelt, spinning gold out of the simplest of popular Italian songs. No wonder that the word has been out about this young British-Italian tenor since he bagged a trio of major singing prizes in 2018 just one year out of college.
If every aspiring Italian tenor needs to tuck an album of popular Neapolitan songs into his CV, De Tommaso and his producer Dominic Fyfe have set about it with discrimination and intelligence. There’s a bouquet of favourites, including ‘Lolita’ dedicated to Caruso and Rodolfo Falvo’s ‘Dicitencello vuje’ with an appropriately lush orchestration and a final top note that would blister the paintwork. Yet De Tommaso includes ‘Fenesta che lucive’, that we used to think was by Bellini, and a pair of Puccini rarities.
Then there is Tosti. How puzzling that people still wrinkle their noses at the work of such a craftsman. De Tommaso stamps his signature right across ‘L’alba separa dalla luce l’ombra’, with a text from D’Annunzio. He has an unerring instinct for drama and for when to lead and when to lean into the melody.
The best is almost saved for last with Respighi’s ‘Nebbie’. Renato Balsadonna and the London Philharmonic Orchestra conjure up a chilling fog to swirl through the song but it is De Tommaso’s agonised cry ‘I am alone’ that will truly haunt the ear as you prepare to lie down.