The Times, 8th October 2010
Geoff Brown
Jonas Kaufmann Verismo Arias/Decca
Italian repertoire now, is it? Given the prodigious gifts of the German tenor Jonas Kaufmann we shouldn't be too surprised. But there's still considerable novelty as that darkly lustrous voice plunges headlong into anguish in Verismo Arias, featuring 17 selections, mostly short, from the late 19th-century boom in luridly realistic operas. This is music of blood, grit, and screaming passion. Early milestones such as Pagliacci are acknowledged, though Kaufmann and the conductor Antonio Pappano have also been burrowing in the library. Here's Romeo in the tomb in Zandonai's Giulietta e Romeo ; here's the closet Lithuanian Corrado, making a blubbering farewell in Ponchielli's I Lituani. Some lighter items are sprinkled in, but the bulk requires so much loud churning from Kaufmann's larynx that he should have left the studio each day on a stretcher. Instead, he tells us in the booklet, the Rome recording sessions regularly ended with "a beautiful dinner". Fluent in Italian, Kaufmann is equally at ease navigating the arias' vocal and emotional tempests. He's backed up splendidly by Pappano and the Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia, though you do need a taste for full-frontal melodrama to survive without giggling.

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