I wish I could give this recording 4.75 stars, but I'll give it the full five because despite a few glitches, it's a performance worth listening to repeatedly. According to the excellent booklet accompanying the disc, which gives historical notes along with the full text and English translations of the selections, D'Arcangelo took on the recording both as an act of homage to his ideal composer and as a challenge to his own expanding vocal range. He also, he says, has analyzed both the characters and the musical context for his way of performing the roles, and I believe he's added some interesting nuances to them. His "Madamina, il catalogo," for example, presents a more flippant and insinuating Leporello than the ones I've heard before, whereas his "Se vuol ballare, signor contino" adds a certain touch of genuine annoyance to the humor. As for his "Non piu andrai," I find it absolutely hilarious -- not just the words, but the voice in the music. The "Cosi fan tutti" arias are also exciting, and the orchestra under the leadership of Gianandrea Noseda is just plain splendid.
The glitches I found were mostly in the lesser-known concert arias, where D'Arcangelo occasionally doesn't quite meet the "challenge" he speaks of in the liner notes. (He says, "You need a huge vocal range and considerable agility. But I love a challenge.") In one aria, for example, a full-octave ascending line which repeats once should sound like an effortless flight of sound, but it turns out more like a labored dash up a flight of stairs. In two of the arias, D'Arcangelo has trouble with a few of the lowest notes -- although, ironically, in the aria that he claims as the biggest challenge for low notes, "Per questa bella mano" ("It has notes so deep that it pushes the singer to the edge of his voice," he says), he manages those deep notes without any audible effort at all, and produces great beauty from them.
These are minor glitches, though, and I've been listening to the disc over and over, not just to enjoy the gorgeousness of D'Arcangelo's voice, but also to catch the nuances that he's put into the more familiar arias. (Here it's very helpful to read his liner-notes musing about the characters, to see what he's done with his speculations.) And, as I've said, the orchestra is splendid and the liner notes thought-provoking. To tell the truth, I'd ordered the disc before reading the negative reviews here and in an old issue of Opera News, and when the disc arrived, I almost put it aside in my "oops, I made a mistake" pile without listening to it. I'm glad I didn't do that. I keep going back and listening again and again, almost like dipping back into a box of chocolates that one has sworn to leave alone for a while. This is definitely a collection worth adding to one's collection.