2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
- Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
This is a collection of Verdi arias sung by the world-renown and ever talented baritone, Thomas Hampson. Mostly known for his lieder, art song, and lyric roles, on this CD the American ventures into the lower and arguably more difficult registers of the dramatic baritone. As the other reviews noted, Thomas Hampson is NOT a dramatic baritone, he is a lyric baritone. So if you're looking for something truer to the dramatic style, then go for a Hvorostovsky, Bruson, Merrill, Milnes, Alvarez, Warren, Chernov, or even Cappuccilli. You won't find those singers here. What you WILL find, though, is a different way of seeing (hearing) some of the arias you're used to, a different perspective---remember, Hampson is one of the most sought after singers on stage today, so he knows how to put emotion and gusto into his music. Though he may not be the perfect example of what a dramatic baritone should be, I think that you'll be pleasantly surprised here.
Hampson doesn't disappoint with the start (and finish) of the album: two arias from Macbeth with which he displays his vocal talents and also his ability to insert his acting into his singing---anger, remorse, sadness, delusion, and vendetta. Selections from some earlier and lesser known works of Verdi follow, a beautiful aria from Ernani and a romanza from I Due Foscari, which was the first time I'd heard it, and I was amazed by how well Hampson pulled it off. Next follows the aria of the Conte di Luna from Il Trovatore---sung in the French version; two things happen with this aria and with the later track of "Di provenza, il mar" from La Traviata: in the first, Hampson sings the French version, which is rare on recital albums, and in the Traviata aria, we get to hear the even more rarely added cabaletta that follows from Pere Germont. So not only do we get to hear a different voice singing some of Verdi's more famed baritone pieces, but we also get something a little "different" on almost each track, something that you won't find compiled elsewhere.
The Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment play very well, never drowning out Hampson, and conductor Richard Armstrong keeps true to tempi that suit the singer very well. In my opinion, the more open-hall recording of these arias are more authentic to what you hear in an opera house than some other closed studio style albums.
You'll get another perspective and find something new with Hampson than you would with your other dramatic baritones. But there's no way to deny that even having the talent to venture into the area Hampson does on this CD is a huge accomplishment. Not only does he try, but he succeeds. Great singing, great vocal acting, good orchestra, and a chance to hear some Verdi that you normally wouldn't. Not bad, if you ask me. Buy this one.