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Giuseppe Verdi: Un ballo in maschera: “Teco io sto” – Otello: “Cià nella notte densa”
Vincenzo Bellini: Norma: “In mia man”
Gaetano Donizetti: L’elisir d’amore: “Chiedi all’aura lusinghiera”
Francesco Cilea: Adriana Lecouvreur: “Ma è dunque vero”
Pietro Mascagni: L’amico Fritz: “Suzel, buon di-Duetto delle ciliegie”
Umberto Giordano: La cena delle beffe: “Che? Voi? Messere, come siete entrato?” – Andrea Chénier: “Vicino a te”

Daniela Dessì (Soprano), Fabio Armiliato (Tenor), Württembergische Philharmonie, Marco Boemi (Conductor)
Recorded at Studio der Württembergische Philharmonie, Reutingen, Germany (January 29-31, and February 1, 2005) – 71’29
Philips 476 3061 – Liner notes in Italian and English, Texts not included

Love Duets by the husband and wife team of tenor Fabio Armiliato and soprano Daniela Dessì is a keeper. In the tradition of Roberto Alagna/Angela Gheorghiu and Anna Netrebko/Rolando Villazón (although the latter are not real life partners), this collection of eight 19th – and early 20th – century Italian duets offers passion and chemistry galore to even the jaded opera buff.

Both Dessì’s and Armiliato’s voices are full-bodied and mature while remaining clear and natural. They are excellent ambassadors of the “Italianate sound” in the best sense of the term. Dessì sings with power in reserve and her high notes float along effortlessly. Her voice has hardly a hint of vibrato (although she can turn it on when appropriate, as in In mia man alfin tu sei from Bellini’s Norma). Dessì’s repertory is not limited to bel canto. In “Gia nella notte densa” from Verdi’s Otello, her voice has a buttery tone that is achingly beautiful. Armiliato is heart-rending in this duet. Although his tenor is high, he is equally convincing in the baritone range. His voice is not at all flowery and his “… un bacio … ancora un bacio!” rings out solid and true.

Every duet on this disc is a gem. In one favourite, the Cherry Duet, or “Suzel buon di . . . Duetto delle ciliegie”, from Mascagni’s L’amico Fritz, the couple are in perfect sync emotionally and musically. Their natural, unhurried approach lends a moving delicacy to this tender love duet, but doesn’t inhibit the dramatic turn as they move into the higher register to a rapturous conclusion. The album’s concluding piece, “Vicino a te”, from Giordano’s , brought waves of chills to my spine. Emotions range from the melancholic to the heroic. Marco Boemi and the Württembergische Philharmonie were at their best, carrying us along with the singers through to the apotheosis of the concluding “Viva la morte insiem”. This is a disc I’ll be listening to for years to come.

Earl Arthur Love




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