There's been a lot of buzz of late surrounding the young tenor Vittorio Grigolo. He has been touted as the next Pavarotti, or the next Domingo. Following a concert, one delighted critic declared that Grigolo had it all. Grigolo has made recent high-profile appearances at the Met, Covent Garden (where he reportedly stole the show from Anna Netrebko as des Grieux in Massenet's Manon) and other major opera houses. Also, he has appeared on Good Morning America and on various European television and opera broadcasts. In short, he's captured the limelight in the operatic world much the way Netrebko did a decade or so ago. He's also fairly well known in more popular-music venues: his first CD, In the Hands of Love, issued in 2006, was a highly successful crossover album that gained the young tenor many fans outside the opera world. But since that debut effort Grigolo has largely been active in advancing his career on the operatic stage.
When you first hear Grigolo's voice, you are immediately struck by its ravishing fullness, its creamy but powerful tone, its youthful zest, its gripping passion and its striking versatility. His is a lyric tenor voice with a little depth, a little spinto quality. After auditioning this album, I don't have to hedge much – he probably is the next Pavarotti.
His Una furtiva lagrima is captivating in its hushed passion, its melting melodic flow and deftly-employed dynamics. Grigolo can turn on the energy and color too, as with his spirited account of Si: de' corsari il fulmine. Here, along with the chorus and bass Danilo Rigosa (Giovanni), Grigolo deliciously imparts both a macho swagger and heroic sense via his powerful tones and ever-subtle phrasing. His Di quella pira, to my ears, at least equals the Pavarotti performance on his famous Decca set with Dame Joan Sutherland and (her husband) conductor Richard Bonynge, from 1977.
In the warmer, lusher music of Puccini, Grigolo is just as effective: in his Che gelida manina he perfectly catches the passionate outpourings of romance by Rodolfo to Mimi, especially as his voice swells and soars with Talo del mio… This is ecstatic music matched by ecstatic singing. Grigolo's E lucevan le stele, thanks not only to his mesmerizing voice but to his brilliant dramatic skills as well, conveys all the sorrow and longing and pain the composer could have wanted.
All the other selections come across with much the same commitment and skill. Giorgio Morandi draws excellent playing from the orchestra and fine singing from the chorus. The sound reproduction is powerful and clear. Highest recommendations!
Copyright © 2010, Robert Cummings