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Zarzuela–the Spanish theatrical form that is halfway between what we know as musical comedy and opera–requires as much from the singer as opera. Teresa Berganza, Placido Domingo, Montserrat Caballé, and others have popularized it somewhat in the past 20 years, and this terrific new CD from superstar tenor Rolando Villazon should convince others of the music’s worth. The selections are filled with heartfelt emotions – love, loss, joy – and the remarkable Villazon inflects his essentially dark-hued voice so intelligently and sensitively that he embodies each experience. He’s a tenor with ideas, seemingly incapable of phoning in a performance: the lovely, soft ending to an aria by Pablo Luna stands in wonderful contrast with a near-heroic number by Jacinto Guerrero about loving one’s home. So much of great singing is about inflection: Villazon is a master of subtlety. It certainly doesn’t hurt that he’s singing in his native language and that the orchestra is being led by another famous Spanish tenor, Placido Domingo. A greatly enjoyable CD. –Robert Levine

Album Info

Label: ‎ Erato
Original Release Date: January 8, 2007