Verdi: Opera duets

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COMPOSERS: Verdi
LABELS: EMI
WORKS: Opera duets
PERFORMER: Angela Gheorghiu (soprano), Roberto Alagna (tenor); London Voices, Berlin PO/Claudio Abbado
CATALOGUE NO: CDC 5 56656 2

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Here are love duets from ten Verdi operas, delivered by today’s favourite young operatic couple. It begins with a curiously unaffecting account of the Act V duet from the 1884 Italian Don Carlo in which, all passion spent, the lovers sing with tender resignation of their parting. Thereafter, everything improves enormously. Tenor and soprano bring meltingly beautiful tone and impeccable legato to the beautiful ‘Oh belle, a questa misera’ from I lombardi, ended by Gheorghiu with an exquisite fil di voce on a high B flat. With the aid of the chorus (London Voices), both singers even make something of the unimaginative concluding allegro. Otello is not a role Alagna is likely to undertake in the theatre, but here he and Gheorghiu are extremely moving in ‘Già nella notte densa’. The Rigoletto duet scene, given in full with the utterances of Giovanna, Ceprano and Borsa, is superb, as is the last scene of Aida, and it is good to have the less familiar extracts from I vespri siciliani and I masnadieri. The Trovatore ‘Miserere’ makes one hope for a complete recording with these two, and the disc ends with an exhilarating Traviata ‘Libiamo’. Impressive accompaniment by the Berlin Philharmonic under Abbado. Charles Osborne

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Reviewed November 1998