Metro, 29 Oct 2010
Warwick Thompson
Jonas Kaufmann: A perfect mix of heart and mind
Celebrated tenor Jonas Kaufmann is the latest in a long line of singers who have released discs of verismo opera arias recently.
Passion play: Jonas Kaufmann's disc of verismo arias confirms his brilliance

(‘Verismo’ is the shorthand name given to the style of tune-soaked, dramatically heady, heart-on-sleeve opera which was written around the beginning of the last century.) Verismo Arias (Decca) is more than a mere exercise in bandwagoning, though; it’s yet another step up for a singer who grows more exciting by the minute.

He adapts his ringing sound with all its Wagnerian potential to the demands of these passion-pouring Italian arias and the result is a quivering emotional arrow straight to the heart.

He’s clever enough to know when to hold back too: there are passages of exquisite mezza voce (lighter, more restrained singing) among the hell-for-leather sobs and sighs. The repertoire is pleasingly eclectic and includes a rarely performed gem from Zandonai’s forgotten Giulietta e Romeo as well as more popular numbers from the operas Pagliacci and Cavalleria Rusticana.

And it gets an extra gold star for closing with the final duet (sung with soprano Eva-Maria Westbroek, soon to be playing Anna Nicole Smith at the Royal Opera) from Giordano’s unaccountably neglected masterpiece Andrea Chénier. With appropriately luscious accompaniments from Antonio Pappano and his Santa Cecilia Orchestra from Rome, it makes for verismo of the very best.

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