Roberto Alagna in Paris – Opera arias & Neapolitan songs

by | Jun 3, 2005 | DVD & Blu-ray Video Reviews | 0 comments

Roberto Alagna in Paris

With Concerts Lamoureux Orchestra/Anton Guadagno
Studio: DGG DVD 80004408 (Distrib. Universal)
Video: 16:9 widescreen, color
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1, DD Stereo
Length: 86 mins.
Rating: ***

Taped 8 and 11 January 2001 at the Salle Gaveau, Paris, we have the
handsome tenor Roberto Alagna in a concert of opera arias, and
traditional Neapolitan songs, a program reminiscent of the best of De
Stefano and Corelli. There was no booklet included in my copy of the
DVD, so my information is limited, but the music does most of the
talking. The musical arrangements of the traditional songs are by David
and Frederico Alagna, so I must assume that the video is a family
affair. Directed by Jean-Marie Nizan, the camera remains fixed as a
medium shot, hovering between Alagna and his conductor, with an
occasional focus an a participating instrument, like the mandolin in
Don Giovanni’s Deh vieni alla finestra. But the audio portion, just
after the opening, suddenly becomes hollow and distant, as if the
microphone placement suddenly shifted and Alagan’s voice were situated
more in the background.

This is not to say that Alagna’s affecting voice in Puccini’s Non
piagere, Liu or in the O Souverain, o Juge, o Pere from Massenet’s Le
Cid are not powerful, but the top and chest-resonance are somewhat
dissipated, lost in the telephone booth, as it were. The familiar lyric
tenor arias, Bizet’s Flower Song, Donizetti’s Una furtiva lagrima, and
Leoncavallo’s Vesti la guibba have ardency and good diction, given the
sonic limitations of the hall and the microphone acoustic. Alagna is
not Del Monaco nor Domingo, however, so the spinto power is sweet and
delicate, more in the manner of Carreras. Certainly, Alagna’s audience
appeal is direct and warm, given the French-style unison clapping that
concludes the first concert.

The second program opens with a lovely Meditation from Thais, again
with the boxy sound that distances the aural patina of the event.
Alagna enters with the plaintive Toboe degli avi mei from Donizetti’s
Lucia, with its acoustically-muffled diminuendo. Then a relative
rarity: Testa adorata from Leoncavallo’s La Boheme, whose sustained
notes quite impress the audience. Alagna’s vocal control in Halevy’s
Rachel, quand du Seigneur is resilient and capable of swooping octaves
without strain. Again, the hall seems to devour his opening declamation
for Canio’s plaint, although the lachrymose power comes through. The
Neapolitan songs, by De Curtis–Ta ca nun chi ague and Senza
nisciuno–and Buzzi-Peccia’s Lolita, have character and idiomatic
inflection. Despite the sonic enervations in this video, we get the
affectionate realization of a fine singer and his reception by a
thoroughly enraptured, flower-throwing, Parisian audience.

– Gary Lemco

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