Monday, 23 June 2014

A rather exceptional French operatic collection from Italian tenor Vittorio Grigòlo on a new release from Sony

Italian tenor Vittorio Grigòlo certainly has the looks for roles as The Romantic Hero, the title of his new disc from Sony Classical . This new release has Grigòlo in some of the great French operatic repertoire, represented by Massenet, Gounod, Bizet, Meyerbeer, Offenbach and the lesser known Halévy.

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Born in Arezzo, Tuscany and raised in Rome, Grigòlo was only four when he discovered his passion for music, becoming a soloist in the Sistine Chapel choir. Having made his debut as the Shepherd in Tosca at the age of thirteen, he began his vocal training in earnest, and at twenty-three became the youngest tenor ever to perform at La Scala, Milan. Within a few years, he was appearing around the world with such conductors as Riccardo Chailly, Lorin Maazel, Zubin Mehta, Riccardo Muti, Myung-Whun Chung, Gustavo Dudamel and Antonio Pappano.

Grigòlo has a repertoire that includes some twenty four operas by such composers as Mozart, Donizetti, Verdi, Puccini, Gounod, Massenet, Offenbach and Bernstein as well as the sacred works of Rossini. As one of the leading tenors of his generation, he now performs in the world's most prestigious opera houses including La Scala, Milan, The Royal Opera House, London, The Metropolitan Opera, New York, Washington National Opera, Deutsche Oper, Berlin, Opernhaus Zurich, Palau de Les Arts Valencia, and Chorégies D'Orange.

On this new Sony disc, Grigòlo shows conclusively that he also has the voice of a Romantic Hero. Opening with Jules Massenet’s Toute mon âme! Pourquoi me réveiller from Werther one is immediately struck by the emotional pull which Grigòlo brings. There are effortless climaxes and such fine control. The Orchestra Sinfonica Nazionale Della RAI under Evelino Pidò  provides beautifully sensitive contribution.

L’amour! L’amour!...Ah! lève-toi, soleil! from Charles Gounod’s Roméo et Juliette is a sheer delight, with Grigòlo showing a natural feel for all the nuances of this aria. One can feel the controlled power of his voice. Grigòlo is superb in Georges Bizet’s La fleur que tu m’avais jetée from Carmen, again showing his restrained emotional power as he sings ‘The flower you threw at me remained with me in prison.’

Gounod’s Quel trouble inconnu…Salut, demeure chaste et pure from Faust shows just how beautifully this fine tenor carefully shapes this aria, aware of each aspect of the text. We return to Massenet with Instant charmant…En fermant les yeux from Manon. Here he is briefly joined by soprano, Sonya Yoncheva. Grigòlo is simply exquisite in the hushed sections. Also from Manon we have Je suis seul!...Ah! fuyez, douce image, full of emotion, always exceptionally musical, full of power and restraint. Absolutely superb.

In Pays merveilleux…Ô paradis from Giacomo Meyerbeer’s L’Africaine, Grigòlo manages exquisite control in the restrained high notes, to superb effect.

Jacques-Francois- Fromental Halevy’s opera La Juive provides a fine aria in the form of Rachel, quand du Seigneur where Grigòlo maintains a consistently restrained pulse, building to a well-judged central climax and finale. This tenor has an incredibly fine emotional presence. Evelino Pidò and Orchestra Sinfonica Nazionale Della RAI provide fine support in the orchestral passages that frame this aria.

Grigòlo is joined by Alessandra Martinez for a highly effective spoken text in Jacques Offenbach’s Et moi? Moi, la fidèle amie from Les Contes d’Hoffmann before Grigòlo brings his finely judged emotional voice to Ô Dieu! de quelle ivresse.

We return to more from Gounod’s Roméo et Juliette with Va! je t’ai pardonné…Nuit d’hyménée. Sonya Yoncheva joins Grigòlo again this time having more opportunity to show her full bodied, soprano voice, powerful and complimenting Grigòlo exceptionally well. Both have an equal power, though Grigòlo displays that extra ounce of emotion. Evelino Pidò and his orchestra provide a dynamic contribution in the orchestral conclusion.

Returning again to Massenet, Grigòlo sings Ah! tout est bien fini…Ô souverain, Ô juge, ô père from Le Cid with some of the most finely judged, controlled, emotional, singing I have heard for a long time, following every little dynamic and nuance.

More comes from Gounod’s Roméo et Juliette with C’est là! Salut! tombeau sombre et silencieux where every phrase contains so much feeling. Grigòlo seems to breathe feeling into this music.

Aria discs come and go but here is something rather exceptional, with Grigòlo an artist very much in the ascendant. Evelino Pidò and the Orchestra Sinfonica Nazionale Della RAI provide much more than mere accompaniment giving much sensitivity and power.

Grigòlo receives an excellent recording made in the Auditorium RAI ‘A Toscanini’, Torino, Italy. He is placed a little forward but attractively so.

There are booklet notes together with full texts and English translations.

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