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Giuseppe VERDI (1813-1901)
Oh! Fede negar potessi…. Quando le sere al placido - Luisa Miller [5.25]
La donna mobile - Rigoletto [2.01]
Gaetano DONIZETTI (1797-1848)
Veleno l'aura ch'io respire… Fu macchiato l'onor mio… Sfolgor divino raggio - Poliuto [5.56]
Giuseppe VERDI
Forse la soglia attinse… Ma se m' forza perderti - Un ballo in maschera [6.27]
Gaetano DONIZETTI
Tombe degli avi miei… Fra poco a me ricovero - Lucia di Lammermoor [7.04]
Giuseppe VERDI
Qual sangue sparsi… S'affronti la morte - La forza del destino (first edition 1862) [4.21]
Gaetano DONIZETTI
Alma soave e cara - Maria di Rohan [1.49]
Giuseppe VERDI
Odi il voto… Sprezzo la vita - Ernani [6.48]
Notte, perpetua notte… Non maledirmi - I due Foscari [5.21]
Ciel, che feci!... Ciel pietoso - Oberto [3.30]
Ah s, ben dite… Tutto parea sorridere… Pronti siate a seguitarmi - Il Corsaro [7.21]
Michael Fabiano (tenor)
London Voices
London Philharmonic Orchestra / Enrique Mazzola
rec. 2018, St. Jude on the Hill, London
Sung texts with English translations in booklet
PENTATONE PTC5186750 SACD [57.03]

On his debut album for Pentatone American tenor Michael Fabiano has released a collection of scenes and arias taken from late Donizetti and middle Verdi operas. Of the eleven arias, Verdi takes the lion’s share with eight and there are three from Donizetti. In an introductory note Fabiano expresses his interest in this particular period of opera when the bel canto era was developing into the dramatic emphasis of the Romantic age. Generally, the choice of works is a fair representation of Fabiano’s schedule with perhaps the exception of Puccini where he is an in-demand Rodolfo, although La bohme wouldn’t fit with the theme of the collection.

In 2007 Fabiano made his stage debut as Alfredo in La Traviata at Klagenfurt Stadttheater, Austria and in 2014 he received two prestigious honours: the Beverly Sills Artist Award and the Richard Tucker Award. Now aged thirty-five, Fabiano is making quite a name for himself on the international stage and has already appeared at much of the world’s most important houses including Metropolitan Opera, San Francisco Opera, Staatsoper Dresden, Paris Opra, La Scala Milan, Royal Opera House, Teatro Real Madrid, Oper Zrich, Staatsoper Berlin. Renowned tenor Neil Shicoff is one of Fabiano’s vocal coaches and I’ve seen a YouTube clip, promoting the album, of the two working together.

In this collection Fabiano demonstrates his lyric tenor to significant effect concentrating predominantly on heroic, rip-roaring drama, which is his strength, with comparatively little in the way of tender more ruminative episodes. Importantly, I do sense throughout the tenor’s keen level of involvement. From Donizetti’s Lucia di Lammermoor, a highlight is Fabiano singing the act 3 aria Tombe degli avi miei… Fra poco a me ricovero where Edgardo, unable to handle Lucia marrying Arturo, declares his desire to die by his rival’s sword. Here Fabiano creates a significant intensity of torment, displaying his tremendous high range which feels controlled and convincing. Thrilling too is Qual sangue sparsi… S'affronti la morte from Verdi’s original 1862 version of La forza del destino. Fabiano as the hero Alvaro, who has accidentally killed the Marquis, wants to meet death in battle and gives an impressive performance with a slight suggestion of strain at the very top. Another energy charged aria is Odi il voto… Sprezzo la vita from act two of Verdi’s Ernani. Here Ernani is thirsty for revenge for the death of his father and once again at full pelt Fabiano generates such a striking degree of penetrating drama that it’s almost too exhausting to bear. From act two of Verdi’s Oberto, Fabiano sings Riccardo’s aria Ciel, che feci!... Ciel pietoso which is the earliest Verdi choice here. This is Fabiano at his most compassionate, as he displays Riccardo’s remorse for killing Oberto. Probably the most challenging for Fabiano is the brief aria Alma soave e cara from act two of Donizetti’s Maria di Rohan. Chalais is distressed at discovering that his sweetheart Maria has married. Fabiano provides satisfying melancholy but the meagre amount of both colour and sweetness in his voice can become rather wearing.

Fabiano has the advantage of steadfast and engaging support from the London Philharmonic Orchestra under Enrique Mazzola. On three tracks the London Voices under chorus master Terry Edwards make quite an impact and don’t put a foot wrong. Recorded at St. Jude on the Hill, London, the sound quality of this SACD (using my standard player) is pleasingly clear and well balanced although I prefer a slightly warmer sound. The booklet is ideal, not only does it contain full sung Italian texts with English translations but gives a short explanation of each aria within the context of the respective opera.

Fabiano provides some impressively dramatic performances of these Verdi and Donizetti arias that make me want to seek him out live on stage.

Michael Cookson
 



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