All music guide
by Stephen Eddins

Romantic Arias
Tenor Jonas Kaufmann has resisted the pressure of opera companies and fans to settle on a single repertoire and has insisted on spanning the nationalities and styles of opera from the Classical and Romantic periods, ranging from Mozart to Wagner and Puccini. This CD is a demonstration of the wisdom of his decision not to let himself be restrained by the expectations of others, and to venture into whatever roles interest him and suit his voice. Kaufmann has a large, rich voice, and he handles it with the variety required by this diverse repertoire. He is absolutely technically secure, and that allows him to make some daring (and effective) interpretive choices. He occasionally allows himself a roughened texture, almost a grittiness, that you'd never hear in Pavarotti or Domingo, but which is entirely appropriate for the character. After all, these are mostly characters (Rodolfo, Cavaradossi, Don José, Werther) who've been tossed around pretty roughly by life, and it's reasonable that they should show evidence of their history in their singing. This is especially effective and moving at the beginning of "Che gelida manina," where the roughness that Kaufmann allows into his tender declaration of love, even at the very beginning of the story, speaks worlds about his background and character. He has plenty of vocal heft for a heroic Preisleid from Der Meistersinger, and the velvety tenderness for the Massenet excerpts. An added attraction of this album is the inclusion of arias from lesser-known operas, such as Berlioz's La Damnation de Faust and Flotow's Martha. The Prague Philharmonic Orchestra, led by Marco Armiliato, provides a solid, but not particularly distinguished accompaniment. Decca's sound is fresh and clean, with a good sense of presence. The collection should be of strong interest to fans of bel canto, particularly those on the lookout for rising stars.




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