Ildebrando D'Arcangelo: "Mozart"
Arias. Orchestra del Teatro Regio di Torino, Noseda. Deutsche Grammophon B0015741-02
A new recital from glamorous Italian bass-baritone Ildebrando D'Arcangelo is tamer than his publicity promises. If you're going to present Leporello as well as the Don, or Figaro along with his noble master, some musical attitude and theatrical profile are needed.
Leporello sounds weary and old in his catalogue aria; Don Giovanni's serenade is delivered in attractive, hushed tones but without real character. Such apparent indifference mars too many of the selections, such as Figaro's "Se vuol ballare," which is carefully sung but lacks a sense of suppressed anger or even an ironic stance. "Per questa bella mano," the dazzling concert aria with double-bass obbligato (by Davide Ghio, a bit underbalanced), is painted in a luscious velvet and finally takes off in the closing coda.
D'Arcangelo's voice is so dark it hardly needs the added deepening he seems to be consciously cultivating in several of the pieces. The concert aria "Non so d'onde viene" should highlight stupendous range and impressive coloratura, but the singer's low notes sound weak and wobbly, and the runs are so messy it's difficult to believe those were the best takes. Although it's nice to hear such rarities, the other concert arias, "Mentre ti lascio, o figlia" and "Aspri rimorsi atroci," sound like filler.
On the other hand, the accompanied recitative "Ehi, sor paggio" (an alternative version) before Figaro's "Non più andrai" is deftly delivered and propels the bass-baritone into his most characterful singing. Guglielmo's "Rivolgete a lui lo sguardo" and "Donne mie, la fate a tanti," from Così Fan Tutte, also receive alert readings. The Count's recitative, "Hai già vinta la causa," could use more dramatic contour, but the ensuing aria "Vedrò mentr'io sospiro," from Le Nozze di Figaro, brings out D'Arcangelo's bite, and he snarls effectively without ever letting the voice turn edgy.
Gianandrea Noseda draws little more than generic playing from the Orchestra del Teatro Regio di Torino. (Where is the contrast of colors in Figaro's last-act "Aprite un po' quegli occhi"?) With soprano Mojca Erdmann's recent Mozart disc from DG exhibiting similar musical blandness and vocal complacency, one wonders if the recording company itself, rather than the artists, should be blamed. That would be a pity.
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