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Giuseppe Verdi: Attila: “Uldino! Uldin! Mio Re!” – “Mentre gofiarsi l’anima” – “Raccapriccio!”; Don Carlo: “Ella giammi m’amò” – “Dormiro sol…” – [Don Carlos: “Elle ne m’aime pas”* - “Je dormirai”*]; Nabucco: “Sperate, o figli!”- “D’Egitto là sui lidi” – “Vieni o levita!” – “Tu sul labbro dei veggenti”; Simon Boccanegra: “A te l’estremo addio”- “Il lacerato spirito”; Oberto, conte di San Bonifacio: “Ei tarda anchor!” – “L’orror di tradimento” – “Ma tu, superbo giovane”; Nabucco: “Vieni, o levia!” – “Tu sul labbro dei veggeti; I vespri siciliani: “O patria” – “O tu, Palermo”; Luisa Miller: “Che mai narrasti!” – “Il mio sangue, la vita darei”; Macbeth: “Studio il passo, o mio figlio” – “Come dal ciel precipita”; Ernani: “Che mai veggio” – “Infelice!...e tuo credevi” – “Infin che un brando vindice”

Ildar Abdrazakov (bass), Rolando Villazón (tenor), Chœur Métropolitain et Orchestre Métropolitain de Montréal, Yannick Nézet-Séguin (conductor)
Recording: Paroisse Saint-nom-de-Jésus, Montréal, Canada (October 2018) – 71’01 (including bonus tracks*)
Deutsche Grammophon 0289 483 6096 3 (Distributed by Universal Music) – Booklet [and libretto excerpts] in English and German

In 2009 Riccardo Muti brought Verdi’s rarely performed opera Attila back into currency, conducting the lavish revival at The Met starring Russian Ildar Abdrazakov whose bravura bass definitely convinced that he could lead the Huns even if he had trouble navigating the rocky cliff set design. Abdrazadov has now recorded selections from Attila for his new release, “Verdi”, with Yannick Nézet-Séguin conducting the sterling Chœur et Orchestre Métropolitain de Montréal.

Along with Abdrazadov, tenor Rolando Villazón, who also sang in The Met production, reprise their duets in the opening tracks of this recording, and the dramatic intensity they command onstage, radiates on the recording as well. Abdrazakov comments in the CD notes that Verdi’s writing for bass repertoire is completely unique by virtue of the fullness of its musical range. And this collection also showcases that range in well-chosen scenes from Attila, Don Carlo [Don Carlos*], Nabucco, Simon Boccanegra, Oberto, I vespri siciliani, Luisa Miller, Macbeth and Ernani.

Scenes from early and mid-period Verdi works that Ildar says is repertory, allows so much expression for the bass voice as the singer matures. Ildar consistently revives his studio performances in character, and in this recording, the session, recorded at Paroisse Saint-nom-de-Jésus in Montréal, has clear, acoustical depth. Many of the tracks have the quality of a live performance.

Following Attila, Don Carlo’s somber “Ella giammai m’amò!” and “Dormiro sol nel manto...” has the orchestra setting the stirring ascensions and framing Ildar’s tragic bass with such expression and control. The clarity and depth of sound from the Métropolitain is particularly luminous with outstanding passages from the principals on violin and cello. Those sterling Verdi strings are also entrancing later on in the recording during Nabucco’s “Vieni, o Levita!” Other highlights include the opera’s recitativo e cavatino, showcasing the collaborative energy and ethereal power of the Chœur Métropolitain. In particular is the fiery “D’Egitto là sui lidi” with Abdrazakov and Villazón.

Arias from Simon Boccanegra and Oberto follow, whereby Ildar’s dramatic expression in these scenes is palpable. Abdrazakov brings noble bravura to I vespri siciliani’s “O tu, Palermo.” Also in full force is the melodramatic luster of scenes from Luisa Miller – and even some orchestral vamping within Yannick Nézet-Séguin’s tempi and even Ildar’s stressing basso lyricism during “...la vita dare! Nio sangue, la vita dare!” Short scenes from Macbeth and Ernani are the final tracks. During “Studia il passo, o io figlio” Abdrazadov doesn’t hold back and engulfs his bass gravitas.

Yannick Nézet-Séguin brings impeccable balance between soloist and the Chœur Métropolitain in this 2018 recorded session, engineered with clear acoustical depth. In the last few years, M. Nézet-Séguin’s Deutsche Grammophon recordings have mostly been orchestral works with the Philadelphia Orchestra, and with his directorship of the Métropolitain now in full swing, there are probably more opera recordings on the horizon. So it is great to hear the distinct qualities present with the Métropolitain on this recording.

It is so well put together that it should ‘steal a little thunder’ from the always front-of-the pack tenor recordings.

Lewis J. Whittington




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