Opera Arias. Rossini, Donizetti
English Chamber Orchestra
Marcello Viotti, conductor
Claves Records, 2011
The wonderful album Opera Arias. Rossini, Donizetti recorded by the Mexican tenor Ramon Vargas in 2011. Although the tracklist does not really stand out as original (with the exception of Donizetti’s Duca d’Alba), it is rare to find these arias sung with such skill and taste. So much has already been written and said on Vargas’ softness, perfect vocal line and expressiveness that I will not tell you anything new about them – I can only add my impressions about this recording.
The arias, except Rodrigo’s from La donna del lago, are all taken from the classical repertoire of the romantic tenor, that Vargas sings without any obnoxious exaggeration, but following a line of elegance and measure. Thus, for example, in the most pathetic pieces, the tenor is sorrowful without being cloying sentimental, as in Se tanto in ira agl’uomini and in Tombe degl’avi miei, and is able to stress even single sentences, as in Cercherò lontana terra (note «non ti potranno dolce amica»).
The same can be said of some of Rossini’s music, especially of Almaviva’s two serenades from Il barbiere di Siviglia, but the real pearl of the album is Eccomi a voi, miei prodi (from La donna del lago): I consider it of a different kind in comparison with the other arias because, along with a tender middle section, the aria is sung in a military context. Vargas is, in my opinion, the best Rodrigo you could wish, because he is not only impeccable, but knows how to give to the character some nuances that I never found elsewhere: this Rodrigo is able to express sincere affection and is also a secure military leader.
Finally, more than ever worthy of mention and praise is the famous Una furtiva lagrima, which alone is worth the CD.