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The Man is a Miracle!,
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This review is from: Verdi (Audio CD)
Domingo announces this album as a tribute to Verdi and a very fine tribute it is too. But it is also a tribute to the artistry and musicianship of a truly great singer.
Some years ago, when Domingo issued a recording of Rossini's `Il barbiere' with himself singing the title role, I felt that he sounded not so much like a baritone as a tenor `taking it easy'. That is no longer the case. In recent years he has enjoyed huge success on stage as Simon Boccanegra and Rigoletto. I have seen the films and was impressed with his performance. With this disc, however, he moves firmly into the baritone arena and comes very close to making it his own.
The one slight drawback is that the voice no longer sounds youthful: that is hardly to be expected in a man of his age. Of course many of Verdi's baritone roles are for men of middle years or older. Rigoletto, Germont and Boccanegra fall naturally to him and his interpretation sounds perfect. The roles from `Un ballo', Il trovatore', `Don Carlo' and `Forza del destino' are for younger men, but Domingo's artistry and impeccable technique succeed in making his performance of their music sound perfectly natural.
The voice is completely baritonal in quality. We are told in the notes that Domingo became a student again in order to master these roles and his studies have clearly been productive. The lowest notes are full and resonant and the highest give us that frisson of delight we feel when we know that a singer is pushing his/her boundaries successfully.
It is not quite perfection: very occasionally the vibrato becomes a little heavy, though not to such a degree as to lessen one's enjoyment of the performance, and I personally should have valued a little more sweetness in the beautiful passage from `Eri tu' where Renato regrets his supposed loss of his wife's love. I should also have like the conductor, Pablo Heras-Casado, to push Verdi's pounding rhythms a little harder at times.
However, the overall effect of the disc is to prove beyond question Domingo's total mastery of his voice and his success in adapting to the effects of time and adding a new glory to an astonishing career. Listen to his performance of Rodrigo's music from `Don Carlo' and then, if you can, to his rendering of Don Carlo himself in Giulini's wonderful 1970 recording - both exquisite and forty-three years between - then you will have some idea of the stature of this artist. I can recommend this disc wholeheartedly in the knowledge that it will bring me many hours of enjoyment. No doubt in ten years' time this amazing man will produce his first disc of bass roles - I can't wait!