Just about every popular tenor has made recordings similar to these, and there's no reason why Domingo shouldn't follow the pack. The music chosen for this CD is far from junk, the arrangements (while not always simple) generally are in good taste, and Domingo's singing is as enjoyable as it ever was.
Beniamino Gigli, one of the 20th century's greatest tenors, tapered off operatic singing in the 1950s, but he continued to record sweet Italian pop pretty much up until his death. Not all of the music appeals to non-Italian listeners, however. Domingo, even more a man of the world than Gigli, opens with an American song (Francis Lai's "Love Story") and closes with an Austrian one ("Love Be My Guiding Star" by another great tenor, Richard Tauber). In between, the focus is on Latin numbers, real or authentic. ("Spanish Eyes," it turns out, was written by the not very Spanish Bert Kaempfert, and "Jalousie," the first tango that comes to mind for many people, was written by a Dane named Jakob Gade.) Many of the song titles include the words "love" or "eyes." It should be noted, however, that not all of these numbers are "love songs" in the sense of romance. "O Sole mio" is a paean to the Italian sun, of course, and "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" expresses love of… dreams? Hope? The self?
It is difficult to determine where these songs were recorded, and when. If you read the fine print, these recordings appear to have been made for companies named Terivi and Saragosa in 1989, 1990, 1994, and 1997. Songs of Love, then, is no calculated concept album, even if it wishes to appear so. It doesn't tell you much about the most current state of Domingo's voice. Suffice it to say that this material doesn't put him in any vocal danger, and the recording engineers have kindly assisted him in freshening the bloom. In even fewer words, Domingo sounds great here, and he sings the songs with the seriousness they need. (One, "Alma latina," was written by his son.) The booklet dispenses with texts but includes a long (two panel) list of the supporting cast at each of the sessions.
Hey, the holiday season is coming up… you probably know someone – perhaps not even an opera lover – who would like this CD. Give it a try yourself, and you'll probably succumb to it.
Copyright © 2001, Raymond Tuttle