Domingo: Verdi – immaculately sung
Normally a new recital disc of Verdi arias by Placido Domingo would not be particularly noteworthy, except this disc features the great tenor in arias written for the baritone voice. After a distinguished career as a tenor, Domingo now is singing Verdi’s baritone roles. Already Covent Garden, Berlin, Mantua, and the Met have heard him as Simon Boccanegra, Germont, and in other roles, but this new disc features a broad spectrum of arias composed by Verdi for his baritone characters.
Distinguished Verdi baritones are a rare commodity these days, so this disc is especially welcome. Verdi’s baritone roles typically lie mostly in the upper part of a lyric baritone’s register, well within the range of Domingo’s voice.
Domingo the baritone does not evoke memories of Macneil, Warren, or Milnes. Instead, he makes these arias his own, almost as though Verdi composed them for a lower-voiced tenor. The dark, but still lyric quality of the Domingo voice is still very much in evidence, as is the noble phrasing and immaculate technique.
As always, he does not simply sing the arias, but he inhabits the role that he is portraying. Boccanegra’s curse terrifies, and Germont’s sorrow is made real for us. Domingo’s voice does not quite reach the depths of the baritone register, so a phrase or two is not perfectly finished where it concludes in the lower register, as in “Eri tu” from Un ballo in maschera, but otherwise his voice comfortably fits the selections he has chosen for this recital.
Particular favorites are “Pietà, rispetto, amore” from Macbeth, which opens the disc, and Rigoletto’s anguished “Cortigiani, vil razza dannata.” Domingo’s treatment of Germont’s aria “Di Provenza il mar” from La traviata rivals Robert Merrill’s interpretation in its lyricism, if not in pure baritonal heft. Verdi usually encouraged a lyrical interpretation from his singers (the role of Lady Macbeth being an exception), and he would have approved of Domingo’s always lyrical approach. It is only in the arias from La forza del destino, where we have grown accustomed to a more muscular approach, that Domingo’s treatment of Carlo’s music is not entirely convincing. albeit beautifully sung.
Throughout the disc Pablo Heras-Casado’s conducting of the Orquestra de la Comunitat Valenciana is supportive and flexible. (Heras-Casado recently made his Met debut conducting Rigoletto).
Placido Domingo: Verdi
Orquestra de la Comunitat Valencian; Pablo Heras-Casado, conductor