Villazon VERDI = Scenes and arias – Rolando Villazon, tenor/ Orch. Teatro Regio Torino/ Gianadrea Noseda – DGG stereo-only audio Blu-ray

Villazon VERDI = Scenes and arias from: Chiel pietoso (Oberto); Scena and cavatina: Odio solo (I due Foscari); Brindisi;  L’Esule; La mia letizia infondere(I Lombardi); In solitaria stanza; Eccomi prigionero (Il Corsaro); Questa o quella (Rigoletto); La donna e mobile (Rigoletto); De miei bollenti spirit (La Traviata); O mio rimorso (La Traviata); La rivedra nell’estasi (Un Ballo in Maschera); Fontainebleau foresta immensa e solitaria (Don Carlo); Ingemisco (Requiem); Dal labbro il canto estasiato vola (Falstaff) – Rolando Villazon, tenor/ Orch. Teatro Regio Torino/ Gianadrea Noseda – DGG 479 1708 Pure Audio stereo-only Blu-ray (PCM 2.0, DTS MA HD 2.0, Dolby TrueHD, 24-bit/96 kHz), 68:59 [Distr. by Universal] ****:

I am referring everyone who reads these new DGG Blu-ray Pure Audio reviews to my review of the Kleiber Beethoven Symphonies 5 & 7 reissue for comments and details on this series in general.

This release, recorded in 2012, is new to these pages. It originally appeared on standard CD, and evidently is now being considered by DGG as worthy of inclusion in its new, multifaceted, and flawed Blu-ray Audio-only series. Finally here is a release I can get behind, though the lack of surround sound is still the major deficiency in this whole line. There is simply no reason why this album could not have been remastered with true surround sound, as the recording is so very new, and the digital origins allow it.

But as an album it is an important re-entry for Villazon into the world of Verdi, as the tenor had serious throat surgery in 2007, and many wondered if he would ever return. Glancing on music-loving fan sites around the web, several have opined that the voice is strained; more closed off than before, though still an instrument of great beauty. I suppose that if you are a very close follower of the tenor then you might be able to make that case—maybe. But honestly, listening to this disc I think that it is more in the imagination than reality. Villazon is also ten years older than when he made his debut in 2004, and there could be some natural signs of aging, especially considering the pace at which he has sung, and the ever-present pressure to overwork the voice. At any rate, this is a very gratifying disc with some beautiful and impassioned singing, and I can’t imagine anyone coming away dissatisfied. The DTS MA option—out of the three, including PCM and Dolby TrueHD—I find the best, and though the CD is also very good this does give an added dimension of spatiality and depth. Please note that DGG has included a “coupon” for a free download of the whole album in standard format, which is very nice, but also points out the flaws in the Blu-ray system as regards multiple playing platforms.

—Steven Ritter

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