Arias by Donizetti, Godard, Gounod, Massenet, Meyerbeer, Rossini and Verdi
Pene Pati (tenor); Choeur de l’Opéra National de Bordeaux; Orchestre National Bordeaux Aquitaine/Emmanuel Villaume
Warner Classics 9029634863 79:09 mins
A generosity of spirit not always to be taken for granted with tenors is in constant evidence on Pene Pati’s debut album on Warner Classics. The programme itself, ranging from some of the best-known tenor arias to real rarities, is generous in its length, suggesting how much the Samoan-born, New Zealand-raised artist enjoys his singing. ‘I hope you enjoy listening to this album of a Pacific boy singing famous European arias,’ he writes in the booklet; ‘I’m excited for you to hear what the Pacific colour sounds like.’ His voice certainly has the colour for both the French and Italian repertoire presented here. The sweet-toned elegance and sense of line he brings to the Duke (Rigoletto) in the opening tracks is matched with rollicking vigour when he gets to ‘Possente amor’, and supported idiomatically by the Bordeaux forces under Emmanuel Villaume, who finds the right tinta not only in Verdi but in the character of all this music.
Whether as Donizetti’s Nemorino or Massenet’s Des Grieux, roles he has sung on stage, Pati gives heartfelt accounts, and in the weightier assignment of Arnold (Guillaume Tell) he brings plangency of tone. The more unusual pieces (including from Verdi’s La battaglia di Legnano and Rossini’s Moïse et Pharaon) are also well characterised; and with Meyerbeer and Gounod it’s not only their famous titles we hear from but also L’Étoile du Nord and Polyeucte. An exquisitely sung aria from Godard’s Jocelyn brings the disc to a quiet close.