May 1, 2008

The perfect tenor for the job

The thing about Gounod's music is that it can quickly seem heavy and solemn if sung by the wrong kind of tenor.
One has to have a light enough timbre and an excellent French diction to be able to showcase how aerial this music really is. Both criteria are of the utmost importance which is why, one of the best tenors ever, according to me, Franco Corelli, made such a mediocre Faust. He obviously had a magnificent timbre perfect for Gounod, but his diction was horrible. On the other hand, Nicolai Gedda was less emotional but the combination of his voice and his diction was a recording marvel (this is also why he is the ultimate Nadir).

Nowadays, nobody speaks French properly (not even the natives, no wonder), and the tenors have lost that leggero touch so many before them had (Gigli, Bergonzi, Corelli, DiStefano ...).

The only true leggero tenors left are Juan Diego Flórez (it seems like a post without mentioning his name is out of the question these days) who, despise his "stacatoish" way of singing (and his too ostensible rrr), is actually amazing once a century, when he sings one aria composed by Gounod (such as "Ah! Lève toi Soleil" from Roméo et Juliette he performed last March in Parma), and Roberto Alagna.

As I am watching the broadcast of Roméo et Juliette from last December at the Met, with Roberto Alagna as Roméo, I suddenly remembered why it is that I fell in love with him some years ago.
He can be so brilliant singing French operas.
Truly the best tenor to do so since Nicolai Gedda.

Even if his voice is not as secure and light as it used to be, he still makes a great service to Gounod's music. And I suddenly feel better to have my ticket for the upcoming Faust in Orange...

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