Puccini: Arias

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COMPOSERS: Puccini
LABELS: Erato
WORKS: Arias
PERFORMER: José Cura (tenor); Philharmonia Orchestra/Plácido Domingo
CATALOGUE NO: 0630-18838-2
Here is almost every tenor aria Puccini composed, with all but one of his operas – the exception being the all-female Suor Angelica – represented. If that sounds like too much of a good thing, then you need to hear the young Argentinian José Cura sing this music. In the short time since he first appeared on the international stage, many extravagant claims have been made for his voice, but this disc confirms that his exciting tenor is indeed the real thing.

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Cura is possessed of a true lirico spinto voice, with a hefty, ringing top. But it is what he does with it that makes this recital so compelling: he colours the voice differently for each character in Puccini’s gallery of heroes and anti-heroes. Opening with a thrilling account of ‘Nessun dorma’ – for some strange reason the programme runs in anti-chronological order – he finds high spirits for Rinuccio’s paean to Florence (Gianni Schicchi) and Ruggero’s sentimental outpouring from La rondine. He finds Dick Johnson’s dark desperation in Act III of La fanciulla del West, and captures the ardent sincerity of the writing in Puccini’s earlier operas. With his instinctive knowledge of this repertoire, Plácido Domingo makes a sensitive accompanist. John Allison