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Placido Domingo: Roman Heroes. Arias by Bellini,...

Placido Domingo: Roman Heroes. Arias by Bellini, Berlioz, Handel, Mascagni, Spontini, Wagner, others; National Philharmonic Orchestra, Eugene Kohn, conducting. EMI 7 54053 2 (compact disc). For a change, a recital record containing mostly fresh, unhackneyed repertory--pegged on operatic Roman characters--is sung by a superstar tenor in excellent voice. Domingo chooses to stretch himself and explore some lovely music not always associated with him. The “Nerone” aria is almost indecent in its voluptuousness and the “Vestale” solo makes one ask when we will have a complete recording of a work that was a favorite of Ponselle and Callas and served to introduce Pinza to America. Rienzi’s Prayer is intoned with a shining lyricism most Teutonic tenors can’t summon, while the “Cellini” excerpt reminds us what beautiful French Domingo sings. Nepotism rears its head with Placido, Jr., as Flavio in the “Norma” scene, but he does no real harm. Handel’s music is less well suited in style and flexibility for Domingo pere’s best qualities, but overall there is a welcome color variety and ring, even at the top, to the tenor’s efforts. Kohn is ever the “l’umil’ ancello.”


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