José Carreras sings Opera Arias

Author: 
Alan Blyth

José Carreras sings Opera Arias

  • Manon Lescaut, Donna non vidi mai
  • Zazà, O mio piccolo tavolo
  • Andrea Chénier, ~, Un di all'azzurro spazio (Improvviso)
  • (La) Gioconda, Cielo e mar!
  • Turandot, Nessun dorma!
  • Pagliacci, 'Players', ~, Vesti la giubba
  • (L')amico Fritz, ~, Ed anchè Beppe amò
  • (La) Bohème, 'Bohemian Life', ~, Testa adorata
  • Fosca
  • Zingari
  • (L')Arlesiana, '(The) Girl from Arles', E la solita storia (Lamento)
  • (Il) Giuramento
  • (Il) Figliuol prodigo
  • Adelson e Salvini, Ecco, signor, la sposa
  • Manon Lescaut, Donna non vidi mai
  • Zazà, O mio piccolo tavolo
  • Andrea Chénier, ~, Un di all'azzurro spazio (Improvviso)
  • (La) Gioconda, Cielo e mar!
  • Turandot, Nessun dorma!
  • Pagliacci, 'Players', ~, Vesti la giubba
  • (L')amico Fritz, ~, Ed anchè Beppe amò
  • (La) Bohème, 'Bohemian Life', ~, Testa adorata
  • Fosca
  • Zingari
  • (L')Arlesiana, '(The) Girl from Arles', E la solita storia (Lamento)
  • (Il) Giuramento
  • (Il) Figliuol prodigo
  • Adelson e Salvini, Ecco, signor, la sposa

I have no reason to gainsay my original view of the duet offering, when it first appeared in 1980. It represents these two artists at the height of their powers in music that suits them very well. Ricciarelli provides limpid singing and sighing accents as Paolina in Poliuto (she and Carreras both in better form here than in the recent complete CBS set of the opera), and as Sarah, Duchess of Nottingham, taking Essex to task for his anger and jealousy in Roberto Devereux. The Giselda/Oronte duet from I lombardi where they are reunited is sung with great feeling on both sides. These, and the Puccini, evince the unity of intentions of the two singers, above all their complete involvement in what they are singing, sympathetically supported by Gardelli and the excellent recording.
Both artists have a similar approach, characterized by plangent, appealing tone and meaningful diction, and both seem nicely to balance the needs of line and feeling. Listen to the section starting ''Oh belle, a questa misera'' in the Verdi and you'll hear what I mean. Though the measure here is a little short, we are consoled by the issue now being available at mid price and, of course, by the quality of the contents. However, I do feel texts and translation should have been included.
They are also missing—sadly—from the solo recital by Carreras. These recordings, too, come from the period when he was singing at his most impassioned, with warmth and consummate ease. Once again, as I pointed out in 1981, we have the sense of a dedicated artist showing telling involvement with the music, familiar and unfamiliar, that he is tackling. In a piece like ''Cielo e mar'', known in so many fine performances, Carreras need fear no comparisons: tempo, phrasing and breath control are exemplary. Then in Chenier's Improvviso he carefully differentiates between sentiment and defiance.
As any adventurous artist should, he makes out a good case for the rarer items. Any revival of Zaza, L'amico Fritz or Il giuramento with him as tenor on this kind of form would surely have had a great success. The last-named item comes from his 1977 recital, when he was less inclined than on the later LP, to modulate his tone to anything much below forte, but the performances have the same commitment. This is a disc that should please anyone who enjoys the tenor's singing and/or anyone who wants to catch some off-beat Italian arias. The recordings are splendidly forward and open.'

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