You may recall that a bit ago, I posted about my latest visit to the record shop. And one of the CDs I bought was (for only £5.99!) The Perfect (Italian) Tenor, a collection of Italian arias sung by Franco Corelli.
This is the track list:
Giuseppe VERDI(1813 – 1901)
1.Se quel guerrier io fossi … Celeste Aida
2.Merce diletti amici … Come rugiada al cespite
3.La mia letizia infondere
La forza del destino
4.La vita inferno … O tu che seno in angeli
5.Deserto sulla terra
6.Ah, si ben mio … Di quella pira
Umberto GIORDANO(1867 – 1948)
7.Improvviso: Un di all’azzuro spazio
8.Come un bel di di maggio
9.Amor ti vieta
10.Mia madre, la mia vecchia madre … Vedi io piango
Pietro MASCAGNI(1863 – 1945)
11.Mamma quell vino e generoso
12.Se Franz dicesse il vero
Francesco CILEA(1866 – 1950)
13.La dolcissima effige
Giacomo PUCCINI(1858 – 1924)
La fanciulla del West
14.Una parola sola! … Or son sei mesi
15.Addio fiorito asil
16.E lucevan le stelle
17.Non piangere Liù
Well, what can I say? It’s not perfect, but it’s as close to perfection as anyone could hope for it to be. It’s (obviously) an old recording, but Corelli’s voice manages to shine through almost all the sound quality problems. I say almost all, because the Nessun dorma at the end has the classic this-was-recorded-underwater sound to it, which distorts his high notes a bit.
My picks for the best tracks of this album are as follows:
Celeste Aida – This rendition has the simultaneous bravado and tenderness that perfectly captures the emotions of this song. Comparing this to Roberto Alagna’s version certainly clears up the mystery of why the loggionisti booed Alagna when he tried to sing it at La Scala.
Deserto sulla terra – Perfect if you need to convert somebody to Corellism, but only have a couple of minutes to do it in.
Di quella pira – This is the only recording of this aria that I’ve heard that can equal Pavarotti’s. Again, I love how his tone changes from romantic to heroic in a matter of seconds. The sound’s fine on this one, apart from some strange whizzing noises in the background.
Come un bel di di maggio – In my opinion, this is the best track in the album. Heartbreakingly soft and painfully strong by turns, this is my favourite of all recordings of this aria.
Mamma, quel vino e generoso – A gorgeous piece of verismo opera, which suits Corelli’s voice perfectly. The stifled sobs work better in this aria than in some of the others.
Or son sei mesi – I’m not really a fan of La Fanciulla del West but his singing brings the rather flat emotions completely to life again and breathes his magic into the music.
E lucevan le stelle – One of my favourite arias, one of my favourite tenors, perfection. Need I say more?
Non piangere Liu – Again, you can hear Calaf’s emotional struggle reflected in his voice. (In case you’re wondering, there is no input from Liu or Timur in this rendition)
So all in all, I would seriously recommend this recording to anyone who likes this kind of repertoire and/or wants to discover one of the greatest tenors who ever lived. You won’t be disappointed.