Verdi: Operatic arias

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COMPOSERS: Verdi
LABELS: Philips
WORKS: Operatic arias
PERFORMER: Andrea Bocelli; Israel PO/Zubin Mehta
CATALOGUE NO: 464 600-2
This is a frustrating record. Bocelli attempts a wide range of Verdi’s tenor arias, each delineating an individual character responding to a particular situation, but his range of vocal colour only infrequently suggests such specifics. Technically he has difficulty with faster passages, which are negotiated gingerly, or slid over rather than articulated. There is no trill in ‘Ah sì, ben mio’ (Trovatore), not even the ‘fake’ trill some tenors offer as a substitute at this point if they can’t manage the real thing.

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The wider problem is that the basic timbre itself tends towards the dry and the wooden, where the classic Italian tenor sound (Corelli, Pavarotti) is juicy and brilliant, with a sheen to it that Bocelli’s voice lacks. It dulls the character of the music. Some of the high notes sound strained, others come over with more authority, though one (at the end of the Duke of Mantua’s ‘Possente amor’) is close to a yelp. There are, however, individual sections where the phrasing is thoughtful and the diction is good. The opening of Don Carlo’s ‘Io la vidi’ suggests the Spanish prince’s melancholy. But for the most part the voice is simply too limited to do justice to the richness of the music and its meanings. George Hall