Top positive review
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A recording that lives up to the hype
on 11 January 2008
I approached this CD with caution given the hype that has surrounded recent appearances of both singers. I must confess that contrary to my expectations I was deeply moved by the singing here which recalls other great operatic couples of the past, Callas and di Stefano, Tebaldi and del Monaco. The recording has rarely been far from my CD player for the past two weeks.
As with the legendary couples from the past, there is something uneven about the two voices. Netrebko's voice is not a warm voice but is beautifully focused, always on the note and has to my ears a dark unjuicy quality. It is a stunning voice. Villazon, by contrast, has a voice that could hardly be described as beautiful the way that Corelli's, Pavarotti's or Domingo's undoubtedly could. It does not sound particularly youthful, but it has sap and oh! what he can do with it. Every phrase he utters seems to come from the depths of his being. He can sing loud and he can sing quietly, always with impeccable style and never indulging in mere histrionics. For me, he recalls the great Bergonzi not in the timbre of the voice which is distinctly Spanish (often making one think of Domingo or Aragall) but in his ability to reach the parts that others cannot. There is incredible passion here. Even in the Romeo and Juliet duet, where one expects a fresher voice, he is utterly magnificent. I urge sceptics to sample this recital, especially as it is now available at such low prices. I will be surprised if anyone is disappointed.