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Rolando Villazón’s follow-up CD to his sensational debut recital of Italian arias is devoted to music by Gounod and Massenet: some as familiar as Faust’s, Romeo’s and Des Grieux’s arias, some as rare as pieces from Gounod’s Polyeucte and La Reine de Saba and Massenet’s Roma and Le Mage. But almost more important than the interesting repertoire, familiar or otherwise, is Villazón’s handling of the music. In Werther’s passionate Act II outburst to God about suicide, which is almost never excerpted, Villazon manages, in four minutes, to create a complete character, with all his neuroses, mania, and desperation–and he caps it with a ringing high B natural which is as beautiful as it is heartfelt. He sings both of Des Grieux’s arias with feeling and tenderness (aided in “Le reve” by Natalie Dessay!). An aria from La Reine de Saba turns out to bequite a showpiece, with a drop-dead high C at its close. As singing and as interpreting, this CD is a must-have. Villazon’s dark-hued, expressive tone is always used in the service of the music, and following his career will be a joy for all lovers of great tenorizing. –Robert Levine

Album Info

Label: ‎ Erato
Original Release Date: September 2, 2000
ASIN: ‎ B0006IQM5I