Verdi: Scenes and arias from Aida, Un ballo in Maschera, Luisa Miller, La forza del destino, Il trovatore, I Lombardi alla Prima crociata, Ernani, Don Carlo, Macbeth & Otello

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5.0 out of 5 star rating 5.0

COMPOSERS: Verdi
LABELS: Decca
WORKS: Scenes and arias from Aida, Un ballo in Maschera, Luisa Miller, La forza del destino, Il trovatore, I Lombardi alla Prima crociata, Ernani, Don Carlo, Macbeth & Otello
PERFORMER: Marcelo Álvarez (tenor), Annalisa Raspagliosi (soprano), Arturo Chacón-Cruz (tenor); Verdi Milan Choir & SO/Daniel Oren
CATALOGUE NO: 478 1442

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The celebrated Argentine tenor has been expanding his Verdian repertory of late to include some of the heftier roles such as Manrico in Il trovatore, with Radames in Aida to follow next year.

This conspectus of ten operas takes us from the relatively lightweight assignments of Oronte in I Lombardi and Macduff in Macbeth right through to the supreme challenge, almost alone of its kind, of the title role in Otello. None of them seem to faze him.

Throughout, Álvarez offers open-hearted, open-throated vocalism, founded on impeccable breath control and a textual attention that binds the consonants carefully into the line.

The least successful item, though mainly from a sonic rather than an interpretational point of view, is the opening ‘Celesta Aida’, where Álvarez takes it upon himself to go for a big, beefy B flat ending as opposed to the pianissimo, morendo (dying) close Verdi asks for – though he’s far from alone in doing so. More problematic is the changing aural perspective on the voice throughout this item, and a clumsily audible edit.

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Elsewhere, there’s some fine caressing of the line (Ballo), immaculately shaped cantilena (Luisa Miller), impetuous heroism (thrilling in Trovatore) and an intelligent highlighting of the dramatic context throughout, but especially in Macbeth, Forza and Otello. George Hall