Opera

The Weekend Australian - Review - - Music Reviews - Mark Cough­lan

Tutto Buffo Paolo Bor­dogna Decca

Ital­ian bari­tone Paolo Bor­dogna im­pressed the crit­ics in last year’s Opera Aus­tralia pro­duc­tion of The Turk in Italy and again in a re­cent stag­ing of The Mar­riage of Fi­garo. In this record­ing he ex­plores the tra­di­tion of opera buffo roles, from Ci­marosa to Puc­cini with an aria from Nino Rota’s The Ital­ian Straw Hat thrown in for good mea­sure.

Bor­dogna has made some­thing of a spe­cialty of th­ese roles and, by all ac­counts, is dy­namic and cap­ti­vat­ing in per­for­mance. How­ever, in an al­bum record­ing, the stage­craft and phys­i­cal en­ergy, so im­por­tant in de­liv­er­ing th­ese comic roles, are mostly lost, leav­ing only the qual­ity and con­trol of the voice.

Bor­dogna does well in the pat­ter songs, de­liv­er­ing crys­tal-clear text with im­pres­sive speed and ar­tic­u­la­tion. In an aria from Donizetti’s rarely heard Con­ven­tions and In­con­ve­niences of the Stage he is at his most en­ter­tain­ing, com­bin­ing ex­treme char­ac­ter­i­sa­tions and mo­ments of com­edy with vir­tu­osic de­liv­ery.

Through­out the record­ing, how­ever, there are times when the vo­cal tone sounds thin and lack­ing in warmth. Some high notes are de­liv­ered with full-bod­ied fruiti­ness, such as in the aria from Gianni Schic­chi, yet at other times the top reg­is­ter lacks in­ten­sity and fo­cus. Bar­tolo’s aria from The Bar­ber of Seville doesn’t sound com­fort­able in the dra­matic sec­tions and there is a lack of lyri­cal warmth in the ex­cerpts from Don Pasquale.

The book­let has two in­ter­est­ing es­says on comic opera but, frus­trat­ingly, no trans­la­tions of the arias. Francesco Lanzil­lotta and the Fi­lar­mon­ica Ar­turo Toscanin pro­vide solid sup­port.

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