RECORDINGS OF THE YEAR
‘Beczała has taken his time moving into this repertoire, and it’s refreshing to hear him tackle it with such apparent ease’
Mark Pullinger welcomes a resplendent album of verismo arias from Piotr Beczała,
marking his transition from lyrical to more dramatic tenor repertoire
‘Vincerò!’ Cilea Adriana Lecouvreur – L’anima ho stanca; La dolcissima effigie; Il russo Mèncikoff Giordano Andrea Chénier – Come un bel di di maggio ; Un di ali’azzuro spazio. Fedora – Amor ti vieta Leoncavallo Pagliacci – Recitar! … Vesti la giubba Mascagni Cavalleria rusticana – Intanto amici … Viva il vino spumeggiante; Mamma, quel vino è generoso Puccini Edgar – Orgia, chimera dall’occhio vitreo. La fanciulla del West – Ch’ella mi dreda libero e lontano. Gianni Schicchi – Avete torto … Firenzo è come un albero fiorito. Madama Butterfly – Addio fiorito asil. Manon Lescaut – Donna non vidi mai; Tra voi, belle. Tosca – E lucevan le stelle; Recondita armonia. Turandot – Nessun dorma Piotr Beczała ten Cor de la Generalitat Valenciana; Orquestra de la Comunitat Valenciana / Marco Boemi Pentatone F Í PTC5186 733 (53’ • DDD) Includes texts and translations
Readers may recall reports of an amusing incident at the Wiener Staatsoper back in 2016 when Jonas Kaufmann was ‘stood up’ by his Tosca, Angela Gheorghiu, allegedly to teach him a lesson after he dared to sing an encore of ‘E lucevan le stelle’. A big fuss was made about the rights and wrongs of encores,
but the truth is that the Viennese public usually demands one at this point. During the Covid‑19 pandemic lockdown, the Staatsoper has been offering free nightly streams, trying to replicate its scheduled programme. I watched Margarethe Wallmann’s classic production (1958!) of Tosca three times, where Piotr Beczała twice sang Cavaradossi, once making his role debut (February 2019) and another four months later, after which he was awarded the coveted title of Kammersänger by Dominique Meyer. Both times, he encored ‘E lucevan’, rapturously received. The Viennese audience has impeccable taste.
Just listen to the luminous ring to Beczała’s tenor in the open-hearted ‘Recondita armonia’ (minus the Sacristan) that opens his disc, which is entitled ‘Vincerò!’. His voice sounds crisp and supple and there’s a definite smile in there too – let’s not forget that Cavaradossi is a carefree artist at this point, daydreaming about his lover in Sant’Andrea della Valle.
Beczała has taken his time moving into this repertoire – he was 52 when he sang that first Cavaradossi – and in the booklet introduction he writes that his long experience singing lyric roles has meant he is now able to approach verismo ‘with my own style and expression’. In an age when many singers are PH O T O G R A P H Y
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16 GRAMOPHONE RECORDINGS OF THE YEAR 2020