Vittorio Grigolo: Arrivederci
For those who have been on Mars, the Italian tenor Vittorio Grigolo once sang in both the Sistine Chapel choir and (briefly) Simon Cowell’s Il Divo, recorded first at the age of 13 (the Shepherd Boy in a live RCA Tosca to Luciano Pavarotti’s Cavaradossi) and more recently a duet with Nicole Scherzinger, and sang Alfredo live on Zurich Hauptbahnhof (the DVD was a Christmas best-seller at the station booking office). Oh, and he pretty much stole the curtain calls from Anna Netrebko in his short-notice London debut as des Grieux.
Grigolo’s ‘second album’ (he makes a lot of this in his own notes, sounding like a worried rock band at a self-conscious career watershed) is essentially a classical pop record – a combination of Neapolitan songs, the shortest of popular arias and Rossini’s ‘La danza’. It is carefully produced and delivered, very short measure (40 minutes) and was, bizarrely, recorded in both Parma and London’s Wathen Hall. Backing in Italy, vocal overdubs in Britain? Anything is possible.
But snobbery about ‘popera’ stars now should be put on hold. Grigolo’s bright, forward projection and not huge voice suits this Three Tenors repertoire well and he handles it with more respect (and, dare one say, taste) and intelligent use of the words than some of his predecessors therein. The Italian pops, especially ‘Arrivederci, Roma’, have a refreshing simplicity. High notes are there but are far from being just the pegs it all hangs on. The opener, Lucio Dalla’s 1986 song ‘Caruso’, has an intriguing lyric about the singer’s marriage to Dorothy Benjamin. Only ‘La danza’ doesn’t quite come off because Grigolo seems to be chasing Morandi’s tempi – a London/Parma axis problem? And the orchestrations, all latter-day apart from the arias and the Rossini, often walk near the schmaltz border. But, overall, whatever your take on his CV, this sounds like a serious artist and he’s been well recorded and produced.