Gounod, Massenet: Arias

Gounod, Massenet: Arias

by Rolando Villazón
     
 

Having jumped to the head of the class of up-and-coming tenors with his debut recital of Italian arias in 2004, Rolando Villazón returns with a French album that will only increase the opera world's excitement. Villazón's voice is every bit as powerful and darkly beautiful -- and hisSee more details below

Overview

Having jumped to the head of the class of up-and-coming tenors with his debut recital of Italian arias in 2004, Rolando Villazón returns with a French album that will only increase the opera world's excitement. Villazón's voice is every bit as powerful and darkly beautiful -- and his dramatic instincts are just as secure -- as his first outing led us to expect, and favorable comparisons to the young Plácido Domingo seem more inevitable than ever. The tenor's musical intelligence is obvious, both in the arias he chooses to sing and in the way he sings them. He avoids a scattershot approach to the French repertoire here by focusing on just two of its most important composers, Charles Gounod and Jules Massenet; this allows a healthy number of "greatest hits" (the tenor arias from Faust, Werther, and Manon, for example), while also leaving space to unearth some wonderful rarities (Gounod's Polyeucte, Massenet's Le Mage, and several others). It also shows that Villazón is just as adept at responding to the purely lyrical moments of Gounod's heroes as to the more dramatically charged impulses of Massenet's. Take the album's first track, "O souverain" from Massenet's Le Cid, a gramophone favorite since the days of Caruso: Villazón reminds us that this aria is an intimate prayer, not an opportunity for bellowing, and he lovingly sculpts its melodic lines with a unique blend of urgency and sensitivity. The examples could easily be multiplied, but each is utterly convincing as a frozen moment of peak emotional expression, and even the most familiar numbers come alive as if being heard -- and sung -- for the first time. As appetizing as these morsels are, they will doubtless make the listener eager to hear Villazón in complete opera recordings, which with any luck will be in the pipeline before long.

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Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Uncle Dave Lewis
The "flavor of the month" tenor phenomenon is an aspect of the classical music industry that may have its detractors, but let's face it -- it's been around since Enrico Caruso finally agreed to have his voice recorded by Fred Gaisberg at the Grand Hotel in Milan on April 11, 1902. There is simply so much money to be made and, conversely, so many fans to please. The question is especially sententious as this is written, given the retirement, already secured in two cases and looming for the other, of the "big three" -- Pavarotti, Domingo, and Carreras. Just who is going to fill their shoes? Virgin Classics has done well to engage the services of outstanding Mexican tenor Rolando Villazón, whose singing on Gounod -- Massenet: Arias eloquently demonstrates that he is up to the fulfillment of both requirements. We can be thankful to Virgin for not following up Villazón's obligatory first release, Italian Opera Arias, with another heaping helping of spaghetti. On Gounod -- Massenet: Arias Villazón is heard in some of the very fine solo arias that originate within the French Romantic tradition. Of course, Villazón's delivery and approach remain solidly Italian even in French literature, even down to incorporating a bit of the Caruso-like "sob" into his singing. Although his thorough assimilation of the tricky pronunciation of the French language is admirable, Charles Panzèra's he isn't. Nonetheless, Villazón provides plenty of drama, intensity, and variety to these proceedings -- his performance of "Oui, ce qu'elle, m'ordonne" from Gounod's "Werther" is particularly galvanizing, as Villazón begins softly, almost like speaking, and ultimately explodes at the words "Père! Père! Père je ne connais pas." It really gets your attention. Villazón's performance throughout Gounod -- Massenet: Arias is quite consistent, as is the Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France in its role as accompanist, guided steadily, and with heart, by conductor Evelino Pidò. If Rolando Villazón keeps making recordings as good as this one is, perhaps someday he will make audiences forget Pavarotti and Domingo in the same manner that they once made the world forget singers like Alfred Piccaver and Giacomo Lauri-Volpi.
Gramophone - Patrick O'Connor
Villazón has established himself as one of the most promising among the new generation of tenors.... Accompaniment, recording and presentation are first-rate.
Time Out New York - Marion Lignana Rosenberg
While Villazón set the bar perilously high with 2004's Italian Opera Arias, his dark, distinctive tone and superb command of French make this disc a more than worthy follow-up.... Handsome rarities from Massenet's Le Rage and Grisélidis round out the triumphant program.
Philadelphia Inquirer - David Patrick Stearns
Among singers entering the next-three-tenors sweepstakes, Mexican Rolando Villazón has raced to the head of the line over the last 18 months, and this second solo disc of arias proves why. As with his previous disc of arias, the voice is rock-solid (it's thrilling to hear high notes without the slightest labor); the tone has a dark, Latin quality; and his treatment of the words is emotionally committed, stylish and confiding.
Fanfare - Marc Mandel
Meets every possible expectation and then some.... Warning -- don't start listening to this disc too late at night; it will unquestionably keep you up beyond your normal bedtime.

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Product Details

Release Date:
01/25/2005
Label:
Erato
UPC:
0724354571923
catalogNumber:
45719

Related Subjects

Tracks

  1. Le Cid, opera: Act 3. Air de Rodrigue. Ah! tout est bien fini ...  - Jules Massenet  - Alfred Blau  - Myung-Whun Chung  -  d'Ennery  - Louis Gallet  - Hugh Graham  - Alain Lanceron  -  Radio France Orchestre Philharmonique  - Evelino Pidò  - Rolando Villazón
  2. Manon, comic opera in 5 acts: Act 2. Rêve de Des Grieux. Enfin, Manon ... En fer  - Jules Massenet  - Myung-Whun Chung  - Natalie Dessay  - Philippe Gille  - Alain Lanceron  - Henri Meilhac  -  Radio France Orchestre Philharmonique  - Evelino Pidò  - Rolando Villazón
  3. Werther, lyric drama in 4 acts: Act 2. Air de Werther. Oui, ce qu'elle m'ordonne .  - Jules Massenet  - Joseph Allen  - Alfred Blau  - Myung-Whun Chung  - Alain Lanceron  - Paul Milliet  -  Radio France Orchestre Philharmonique  - Evelino Pidò  -  Hartmann  - Rolando Villazón
  4. Roméo et Juliette, opera: Act 2. Cavatine de Roméo. L'amour! l'amour! Ah! lè  - Charles Gounod  - Joseph Allen  - Michel Carré  - Myung-Whun Chung  - Alain Lanceron  -  Radio France Orchestre Philharmonique  - Evelino Pidò  - Rolando Villazón  - Auguste Barbier
  5. Polyeucte, opera: Act 3. Air de Polyeucte. Source délicieuse  - Charles Gounod  - Michel Carré  - Myung-Whun Chung  - Alain Lanceron  -  Radio France Orchestre Philharmonique  - Evelino Pidò  - Rolando Villazón  - Auguste Barbier
  6. La reine de Saba, opera: Act 2. Air d'Adoniram. Faiblesse de la race humain  - Charles Gounod  - Michel Carré  - Myung-Whun Chung  - Hugh Graham  - Alain Lanceron  -  Radio France Orchestre Philharmonique  - Evelino Pidò  - Rolando Villazón  - Auguste Barbier
  7. Le roi de Lahore, opera in 5 acts (3 versions): Act 4. Air d'Alim. Voix qui me remplissez d'une in  - Jules Massenet  - Myung-Whun Chung  - Louis Gallet  - Hugh Graham  - Alain Lanceron  -  Radio France Orchestre Philharmonique  - Evelino Pidò  - Rolando Villazón
  8. Grisélidis, opera in 3 acts: Act 2. Air d'Alain. Je suis l'oiseau  - Jules Massenet  - Myung-Whun Chung  - Hugh Graham  - Alain Lanceron  -  Radio France Orchestre Philharmonique  - Paul Armand Silvestre  - Evelino Pidò  - Rolando Villazón  - La Moranda
  9. Werther, lyric drama in 4 acts: Act 3. Lied d'Ossian. Traduire ... Ah! bien souven  - Jules Massenet  - Joseph Allen  - Alfred Blau  - Myung-Whun Chung  - Alain Lanceron  - Paul Milliet  -  Radio France Orchestre Philharmonique  - Evelino Pidò  -  Hartmann  - Rolando Villazón
  10. Mireille, opera: Act 5. Air de Vincent. Mon cœur est plein d'un noi  - Charles Gounod  - Michel Carré  - Myung-Whun Chung  - Hugh Graham  - Alain Lanceron  -  Radio France Orchestre Philharmonique  - Evelino Pidò  - Rolando Villazón
  11. Roméo et Juliette, opera: Act 5. Air du tombeau. C'est là ... Salut, tombeau  - Charles Gounod  - Joseph Allen  - Michel Carré  - Myung-Whun Chung  - Alain Lanceron  -  Radio France Orchestre Philharmonique  - Evelino Pidò  - Rolando Villazón  - Auguste Barbier
  12. Faust, opera: Act 3. Cavatine de Faust. Quel trouble inconnu me  - Charles Gounod  - Michel Carré  - Myung-Whun Chung  - Alain Lanceron  -  Radio France Orchestre Philharmonique  - Béatrice Vierne  - Evelino Pidò  - Rolando Villazón  - Auguste Barbier
  13. Manon, comic opera in 5 acts: Act 3. Air de Des Grieux. Je suis seul! Ah! fuyez,  - Jules Massenet  - Myung-Whun Chung  - Philippe Gille  - Alain Lanceron  - Henri Meilhac  -  Radio France Orchestre Philharmonique  - Evelino Pidò  - Rolando Villazón
  14. Roma, tragic opera in 5 acts: Act 3. Air de Lentulus. Je vais la voir! Tout mon  - Jules Massenet  - Myung-Whun Chung  - Hugh Graham  - Alain Lanceron  -  Radio France Orchestre Philharmonique  - Henri Cain  - Evelino Pidò  - Rolando Villazón  - Philip White  -  Radio France Chorus
  15. Le mage, opera in 5 acts: Act 2. Air de Zarastra. Ah! parais! parais, astre  - Jules Massenet  - Myung-Whun Chung  - Hugh Graham  - Alain Lanceron  -  Radio France Orchestre Philharmonique  - Evelino Pidò  - Rolando Villazón  - Philip White  -  Radio France Chorus  -  Jean Richepin

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