“Love Duets” – Ailyn Perez, sop./ Stephen Costello, tenor/ BBC Sym. Orch./ Patrick Summers – Warner Music 0825646334858, 65:42 ****:
Young American singers Ailyn Perez and Stephen Costello are the latest husband and wife team to hit the operatic big time (her name, by the way, is pronounced “Eileen”), and after watching a YouTube video of them in an interview I can honestly report that their performances here are much like the way they come across on camera—enthusiastic, likable, good-natured, and a little bit naïve. I certainly hope they make it, as they are obviously two young kids deeply in love, and this program was designed to reflect those sentiments.
The one thing that keep striking me as I listened to this very enjoyable recital is the obvious wide-eyed sense of wonder that characterizes all of these performances. It’s as if one said to the other at some point “O look! I found this opera called La boheme—let’s take a peek and try it out!” There truly is that sort of unencumbered feeling, an interpretative outing that is so devoid of historical encrustation, music done in a vacuum, if you will, that the sheer delight in discovery reminds us of how we first felt the first time we heard these pieces. Of course, with him at 33 and her at 35, it is hardly the case that that degree of discovery is still part and parcel of their experience to date.
It’s not all rosy—there are some small vocal gaffs that don’t spoil anything yet are still noticeable to those really listening. And they are not there emotionally in all of this music just yet. They don’t disregard the passion, but there is a lot in some of the works—Verdi and Donizetti especially—where the emotional mine still requires some additional digging. The Broadway pieces, right up their alley and part and parcel of their musical makeup, are superb. And I am enchanted by the Mascagni “Cherry Duet” and the selection from Gounod’s Faust. All in all this is a fine recital that will give a lot of pleasure, and a recording that might prove quite interesting as their careers progress. Patrick Summers provides good support if a little over the top in some places, but the sound provided by the BBC studios in London is very good.
TrackList:Bernstein:One Hand, One Heart (from West Side Story) Donizetti: Esulti pur la barbara (from L’elisir d’amore) Forrest: And this is my beloved (from Kismet) Gounod: Il se fait tard ! Adieu ! (from Faust) Loesser: I’ll Know (Guys and Dolls) Mascagni: Suzel, buon di ‘Cherry Duet’ (from L’amico Fritz) Massenet: Toi ! Vous ! Oui ! Je fus cruelle… N’est-ce plus ma main (from Manon) Puccini: O soave fanciulla (from La Bohème) Rodgers, R: If I Loved You (from Carousel) Verdi: Signor né principe (from Rigoletto); Un dì felice, eterea (from La traviata)