The Romantic Tenor
It is doubtless a sign that any operatic tenor has really arrived when a record company has him recording a collection starting with ''You are my heart's delight'' and going on to embrace Neapolitan songs, a number from West Side Story and items by composers as diverse as Chopin and Lennon and McCartney. It's obviously a welcome recipe for the tenor's existing fans and for a more general public that knows what it likes.
Araiza's technical ability is evident throughout it all, of course; and he manages to avoid the embarrassing mangling of foreign languages that mars so many collections of this type. However, it takes a good deal more to make a real success of the formula. The greatest of singers in this kind of repertoire—one thinks naturally of Tauber—didn't need linguistic perfection to get their appeal across. With Araiza, though, there is no more than a fraction of Tauber's personality and charm, his control of light and shade, his ability to convey tenderness and passion. Nor is there the ability to make the spine tingle that is shared by all the great tenors who sang this type of material—the likes of Gigli, Wunderlich and Domingo.
Even on Araiza's home ground, in the Mexican songs, there is little real compensation. Where is the irresistible tenderness and charm of a Kraus or Carreras in Ponce's Estrellita, or the outburst of passion which is called for in Grever's Jurame? Surely there should be some suggestion that the singer is actually enjoying this light-hearted stuff! That never seems to come through here, as Araiza and his conductor amble through the songs. Tauber, Gigli, Domingo and the like attracted the attention of popular musicians not simply for commercial reasons, but because of the style they brought to their performances of lighter fare. I don't see Araiza achieving that.'