Dec 12, 2008

Alagna's trap

I've always had a problem with Roberto Alagna. I find him incredibly fake as a human being. I couldn't explain this intuition because he is, from general concensus, a nice and passionate guy. I tend to make the amalgam that he is a fake artist as well, and he keeps surprising me, for the better.

Of his numerous soloist recordings, two immediately come to mind.  
The first one is Airs d'opéra français (EMI, 2001) with the orchestra of the Royal Opera House conducted by Bertrand De Billy (already a very attracting point). But the real jewel of this CD is the track listing. All the best French composers from the XIXth century are highlighted in this recording, yet the arias chosen are not the best-known pieces from these composers.
The obvious choice to represent Gounod would have been an extract from Faust, yet the aria chosen was "Anges du paradis" from Mireille; furthermore, most of the extracts are from long forgotten composers such as Méhul, Thomas, Bazin or Bruneau.

What doesn't hurt either is the quality of the singing and the superb performance of the musicians.

The second recording of Roberto Alagna that everyone should know, is his CD entirely dedicated to Hector Berlioz with, again, the orchestra of the ROH conducted by Bertrand De Billy (EMI, 2003).

Once again, very interesting track listing and magnificent journey. This recording offers a rare cohesion that acts a bit like a gateway drug to Berlioz's fascinating world - the speaking parts from Gérard Depardieu (that I normally can't stand) in "L'onde frémit, l'onde s'agite" from Lélio, ou le Retour à la Vie are hypnotizing and that's not the only time in this recording time stops and you start floating in a parallel universe.

Yet Roberto Alagna is also responsible for preposterous discs that are an insult to good taste - so naturally, you learn to be cautious with the guy, as you tend to be very skeptical each time a new recording comes out - especially his non-operatic opus.

As I find myself enjoying a friday night show on French television he is part of, I was able to listen to three extracts from his latest CD, Sicilien (extracts here). It seems the track listing is a match made in Heaven and directly speaks to my Sicilian half. And yet I always thought he was fake in this department as well. It turns out - apart from the obvious fact that the Sicilian diaspora is desperately predictable (especially me) - that Sicilien is indeed a perfect compilation of the Sicilian heritage. How can I have a definite judgment on Alagna when he pulls such tricks out of his sleeve?

P.S. And then, such video clips should have been avoided (the musical arrangement on the other hand I love):

1 comment:

ChristinaLuise said...

Noramlly I don't like Roberto Alagna not at all, but I totally agree with you that Sicilien is a fantastic album ! I have already thought about buying it ;)

Greetings Christina

Ps: Such video clips should really be avoided ;)