Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, May 05, 2011
Robert Croan
Jonas Kaufmann Verismo Arias
**** (out of 4)

At 41, German tenor Jonas Kaufmann is one of opera's hottest properties. Up to now he has been known more for German and French repertory than Italian, but Cavaradossi in Puccini's "Tosca" was one of his recent successes and this new CD features 17 arias from Italian verismo operas.

The essential verismo operas are Mascagni's "Cavalleria Rusticana" and Leoncavallos "Pagliacci," and the tenor hits from those operas are central here: Turiddu's drinking song and farewell to his mother ("Cavalleria") delivered with dark-hued virility and emotional wallop, Pagliaccio's "Vesti la giubba" a worthy and expressive entry in a line of great tenors that began with the legendary Enrico Caruso.

But there is much more here: an array of excerpts from less familiar works such as Boito's "Mefistofele," where Mr. Kaufmann rings out trumpet-like in "Dai campi," then scales down to some exquisite pianissimi in "Giunto sul passo." Best of all, for this listener are two thrilling arias plus the final duet (with the superb Eva-Maria Westbroek) from Giordano's "Andrea Chenier," an opera that seems tailor-made for this tenor's talents. Another gem is his highly nuanced rendition of "Cielo e mar" from Ponichielli's "La Gioconda." This is a disc that belongs in every opera lover's collection.


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