A programme of (mostly) operatic arias
Mirco Palazzi (bass) &
Vincenzo Scalera (piano)
Reviewed by: John T. Hughes
Reviewed: 1 December, 2002
Venue: St. Johns, Smith Square, London
One of the most enterprising series of vocal recitals in London is that promoted by Ian Rosenblatt. These recitals have usually taken place in St John’s, Smith Square and have been a mixture of well-known singers and those who are up-and-coming. The former have included tenors Giuseppe Sabbatini and Juan Diego Flórez and baritone Carlos Álvarez, whilst among the younger brigade we have heard soprano Maria Fontosh, baritone Riccardo Novaro and the subject of this review, the 24-year-old Italian bass Mirco Palazzi, pupil of former tenor Robleto Merolla.
Palazzi appeared at the Wexford Festival last year in Dvorak’s The Jacobin. He is more the shape and size of a tenor, being short and stocky. Once he starts to sing one hears a voice of fine quality: rich and plush, easily produced and projected, whether in 17th-century arias, such as Lully’s elegant “Bois épais”, or in such 19th-century dramatic roles as Fiesco or Rossini’s Assur, the latter enabling Palazzi to pour forth a flowing stream of bass rotundity. The programme was mainly of operatic arias, from the Legrenzi opera composed in 1678 to Colline’s “Coat Song” from La Bohème.
The young singer’s vocal instrument is flexible enough to move smoothly in long, slow lines, as in King Philip’s aria from Don Carlo, with its introspective brooding well caught, and also to step lightly through the passagework of Carissimi’s “Vittoria”, demonstrating as he does so that his technique is such that he has no need to cheat by using aspirates.
The seriousness of “Il lacerato spirito” (Simon Boccanegra) was conveyed as successfully as the humour of “La calunnia” (Il Barbiere), the second of these repeated as a third encore. In everything, Palazzi was supported and matched by the pianistic skills of Vincenzo Scalera, a frequent and most welcome contributor to the Rosenblatt Series. Together they enjoyed the contrasting moods of the three songs of Ravel’s Don Quichotte à Dulcinée, to bring the main part of the evening to a buoyant close.
If Palazzi does not have a successful career, justice will be deaf as well as blind. 24 is a young age for a bass, yet already the voice is well formed. To judge by his airy approach to Don Giovanni’s serenade, the second encore, Palazzi’s recent assumption of the complete role should have been well worth hearing. Future engagements include La Sonnambula in Parma: the account of “Vi ravviso” which he gave us makes me want to hear him perform the whole of Rodolfo’s part. But then I should like to encounter him in another recital or in a complete opera (or both) in London.
The Rosenblatt Series, which for some reason lacks for review coverage, has provided a feast for lovers of vocal music and of the voice, with Palazzi and Scalera adding another delightful programme. The series continues with three ladies: Irish soprano Ailish Tynan on 23 January, the Russian Ekaterina Solovieva (with Larissa Gergieva at the piano) on 18 February and the renowned Anna Caterina Antonacci on 11 March.