I puritani A te, o cara
Les pêcheurs de perles Je cruis entendre encore
Larlesiana È la solita storia
Don Pasquale Cercherò lontana terra
La fille du régiment Ah! mes amis
Don Giovanni Il mio tesoro
Il barbiere di Siviglia Se il mio nome
Antonino Siragusa (tenor) & Rosetta Cucchi (piano)
Reviewed by: John T. Hughes
Reviewed: 19 September, 2006
Venue: St John's, Smith Square, London
Antonino Siragusa returned to St. John’s, a year after his previous appearance, for this Rosenblatt recital. Four arias on his programme were repeated from last September, including Almaviva’s serenade “Se il mio nome”, in which he again accompanied himself on the guitar, giving a short break to Rosetta Cucchi, whose skill at the keyboard is always welcome. Both of them transmit an air of pleasure in performing.
If Siragusa’s voice is unknown to you, let me say that the composers who seem to feature most often in his operatic excursions are the ‘Big Three’ of Italian bel canto: Rossini, Donizetti and Bellini, all represented in this recital. His voice has similarities to that of Alfredo Kraus, in that the tone, direct, is penetrative when he sings loudly and cleanly focused at all times. His quiet singing takes on a softer hue, and he makes very effective use of head-voice, employed on a number of occasions, as in the Rossini and Bizet arias and in “Mattinata siciliana” (aka “E vui durmiti ancora”), a slow, lilting song by Gaetano Cali (1882-1932), arranged for piano by the tenor Salvatore Fisichella.
The sweetness in Siragusa’s voice was immediately apparent in the opening item, Federico’s lament from “L’arlesiana”, with the wish to forget, as when asleep, giving way to a more vehement outburst as Federico is haunted by the vision of the young girl from Arles whom he loves hopelessly. It was in dulcet tone that the ‘Barbiere’ item was sung, with runs and divisions gently defined rather than unpleasingly aspirated. Some people thought that Siragusa passed from soft to loud too abruptly in “Cercherò lontana terra”, ignoring the middle ground. The comments were not entirely unjustified. Exuberance is the order of the day for “Ah! mes amis” and its plethora of high Cs were pinged out with no sign of strain, either orally or visually.
Cucchi was fully in the spirit, mouthing the words of the arias, as is her wont, while she played and giving the tenor firm rhythmic support. She has appeared often in Rosenblatt recitals and always seems to be enjoying herself.
In the second half, Siragusa negotiated that fiendish run in “Il mio tesoro” in one breath, as so many singers do these days. Three songs, by Calì, Cardillo and Falvo, were put across with the necessary variety. A piece called “Caruso” (I think) by a writer of pop-songs, one Lucio Dalla, came as an encore, sitting well in Siraguza’s voice but not a song which I whish to hear often, rather like the second encore, “Granada” by Augustin Lara, which I have heard too frequently. (I’m more interested in the exploits of the West Indies batsman Brian Lara.)
This was another recital of pleasing contrasts, another display of a well honed technique by Antonino Siragusa.