With so many of the singers of my generation passing on or choosing to retire, it is good news to discover two such promising young opera stars as Juan Diego Flórez and Anna Netrebko. Their considerable talents are revealed on these well-planned and -recorded recital discs. Each shows its singer off in repertory well chosen for its featured voice. Both singers have in common lovely, lyrical voices that can be punched up for dramatic effect.
In fact, one is tempted to dub Flórez a stentorian lyric tenor. He can lovingly and gently spin an intricate musical phrase with the best of them, but he can also call up some ringing, heroic top notes when needed. His top C in the aria from Donizettis La Figlia del Regimento is spine-tingling. He receives outstanding support from Carlo Rizzi and a fine orchestra.
Netrebkos voice is not beautiful in a conventional sense. At times, she reminds one of Callas. She brings special dramatic flair to the "Mad Scene" from Donizettis Lucia di Lammermoor. Accompanied by the eerie glass harmonica, instead of the usual dulcet flute, hers is a chilling virtuoso performance. Her Lucia is a woman who can sing the spots off the notes, but is also undeniably crazy. Claudio Abbado is not as incisive a conductor as Rizzi, but obtains clean playing from his musicians, giving Netrebko good support.
The clear, well-balanced recordings are both excellent. Though it is the Netrebko that places the singer more into the center channel, the Floréz has a smidgen more presence on his disc. Triggered in part by the titles in common on these discs, I would love to see complete opera recordings made starring these two exciting artists. La Traviata, Lucia di Lammermoor, and Gianni Schicchi would seem good departure points.
GO BACK TO: