Five Venetian Boat Songs
Per questa bella mano, K612
Le nozze di Figaro Aprite un po quegl occhi
Don Quichotte à Dulcinée
Musique anodine Prelude
Alle voci della gloria
Il barbiere di Siviglia La calunnia
Orlando Furioso Ah sleale
Lorenzo Regazzo (bass) & Dimitri Romano (piano)
Reviewed by: John T. Hughes
Reviewed: 5 July, 2006
Venue: St John's, Smith Square, London
After presenting very enjoyable recitals by two singers in their twenties (the Italian bass Mirco Palazzi and the American tenor Stephen Costello) the enthusiastic and redoubtable Ian Rosenblatt arranged a second visit to St. John’s from the slightly older Lorenzo Regazzo, another admirable bass from Italy, who offered a performance with some unhackneyed items, none more so than the five anonymous songs emanating from Venetian gondoliers.
These pieces, which Regazzo sang first, are reminiscent of arie antiche, all concerned with the subject of love, though the last, “Infin che’l tempo è belo”, is perhaps confusing love with sex, for the singer suggests that he and his friends go to the brothel. Sung in Venetian dialect, they received from Regazzo, a native of that city, the benefits of his vocal palette of many colours together with a range of emphases, ably augmented by the pianistic skills of Dimitri Romano, who was described in the programme as having “a particular interest in Italian and Venetian music from the 19th century” and whose intimate playing helped to bring out the beauty of “Quei oci me fa guera”.
It was to Vivaldi’s opera “Orlando Furioso” that the performers turned next. Regazzo has recorded the role of Astolfo for Naïve, but the dramatic scene presented on this evening belongs in the opera to Orlando. It is one of those scenes in which the character loses his reason, allowing Regazzo to regale the audience with a cornucopia of gradations of volume, shadings and expressive responses.
The firmness of his voice and the concentration and focus of tone paid dividends in the two Mozart arias. “Per questa bella mano” rolled forth effortlessly, whereas the quick sections of Figaro’s aria were cleanly articulated. Mozart and Rossini are very much Regazzo’s fach, and it was the Italian composer who ended the second half.
Before that, though, Regazzo and Romano ventured into the 20th-century for Ravel’s ‘Don Quichotte’ settings. “Chanson romanesque” was lovingly caressed, with the final “Ô Dulcinée” sung in a dreamy head-voice. “Chanson épique” was strongly but not crudely declaimed, and both singer and pianist enjoyed themselves in the boisterous cross-rhythms of “Chanson à boire”.
Romano was on his own for a short while in the Prelude to Rossini’s “Musique anodine”, with his hands cleanly encompassing the music’s required leaps. The concert aria “Alle voci della gloria” gavve Regazzo the opportunity to show the flexibility of his voice in well-bound scale passages and neat little runs and turns, whereas Basilio’s “La calunnia” enabled him to build a climax in strong and rounded tones as the power of slander grew alarmingly, to the character’s malicious delight. The crescendo was well created, with no recourse to unmusical hamming; the use of colour and gradual increase in vocal power and volume were enough.
The short “Le Femmine d’Italia” from “L’italiana in Algeri” and a gondolier barcarolle by Donizetti were sung as encores to complete another enjoyable evening in this estimable series.
The next London recital to be presented by Ian Rosenblatt will be on 19 September, when the eximious Italian tenor Antonino Siragusa, whose concert last year was highly successful, will be the soloist.