Home  |  Audio Reviews  Audiophile Shows Partner Mags  News     

Enjoy the Music.com Review Magazine
Romantic Hero by Vittorio Grigoloa
Massenet: Werther: "Pourquoi me réveiller" Manon: "Instant charmant . . . En fermant les yeux"; "Je suisseul! . . . Ah! Fuyez, douce image" Le Cid: "Ah! Tout estbienfini . . . Ô souverain, ô juge, ô père"

Gounod: Roméoet Juliette: "L'amour! . . .Ah! Lève-toi, soleil!"; "Va!Je t'aipardonne . . . Nuitd'hyménée"; "C'estlà!Saluttombeausombre et silencieux" Faust: "Quel trouble inconnu . . . Salut, demeure chaste et pure"

Bizet: Carmen: Flower Song

Meyerbeer: L'Africaine: "Ô paradis"

Halevy: La Juive: "Rachel, quand du Seigneur"

Offenbach: Les Contesd'Hoffmann: "Et moi? . . . ÔDieu! De quelleivresse"

Vittorio Grigòlo, tenor; Evelino Pidò conducting the RAI National Symphonic Orchestra; Sonya Yoncheva, soprano (in the Romeo et Juliette duet); Alessandra Martines, speaker (in the Hoffmann excerpt)
Review By Joe Milicia


  Vittorio Grigòlo will be familiar to many listeners for his Met performances as Rodolfo (his debut role in 2010 and his 2014 La Boheme HD transmission), or for his CDs of Italian arias and popular and sacred songs. The title of his new CD is rather misleading, if only in its omission: this is an album of French arias. Grigòlo has had training in French since childhood, and one of his first international successes was as Massenet's Des Grieux at Covent Garden, though these of course aren't guarantees of good French diction and comfort in the French operatic style. Fortunately Grigòlo is very satisfactory indeed in these matters, perhaps the most convincing of any non-French star tenor today.

This is a recital of "greatest French hits," though no less welcome for that. It starts out with Werther's "and includes two major excerpts from Manon as well as Rodrigue's Prayer from El Cid. For Gounod we get not only Faust's salute to Marguerite's chaste domicile but--scattered through the recital—no less than three scenes from Gounod's Roméo, including the dawn love duet featuring soprano Sonya Yoncheva. The "big" arias from L'Africaine and La Juive, not to mention Don Jose's Flower Song, are represented as well, plus the last-act reprise of Hoffmann's love song, originally addressed to Giulietta but now to the Muse, whose whispered introduction is included in this recital. (In contrast, Roberto Alagna, another Italian tenor noted for his French repertoire, includes mostly rarities in his 1996 recital for DG, with only the L'Africaine, La Juive and El Cid arias duplicating Grigolo's program.)

Some younger opera fans may be used to hearing heftier voices in some of these roles than Grigòlo's lyric tenor provides. There is no denying the thrill of Jonas Kaufmann's more baritonal tenor in Wertherand Faust, or the heroic force of the younger Placido Domingo playing Vasco da Gama, El Cid or Don José, or the tragic weight that Neil Shicoff could give the roles of Hoffmann and La Juive's Éléasar. But there is a long tradition of lighter voices in many of these roles—Alfredo Kraus was a celebrated Werther, for example—and Grigòlo offers distinctive vocal colors along with an overall attractive sound, along with ardent delivery and sensitivity to phrasing.

These qualities are all in evidence in the opening Werther aria and in Carmen's "La fleur quetum'avaisjetée" (both laments of a rejected lover), though he does a bit of scooping toward a couple of high notes in the latter. For the role of Éléasar, a grieving father rather than young lover, Grigòlo offers an convincing gravity as well as considerable beauty of tone. However, I found his Faust aria, including a somewhat effortful-sounding high C, a bit less convincing, maybe because I can't rid my mind of the ideal of Nicolai Gedda in this music. Least satisfactory on this recital, I found, is "Ô paradis," not because most of history's greatest tenors have left us superlative recordings of it (Bjorling, 1939, available on YouTube, is stunning) but because it sounds tentative and "recited" note-by-note rather than heroic.

On the other hand, in his present vocal estate Grigòlo is extremely well suited to such youthful lovers as Des Grieux and Roméo. The former's monologue in the church, "Ah!Fuyez," in which he calls in vain for his vision of Manon to be gone (and for which Sony provides a couple of lines spoken by the Porter, anonymously) is delivered with passion as well as elegance of style, and the same can be said for his rendition of Roméo's tomb aria, which effectively ends the recital.

For the Roméoet Juliette love duet ("It was the nightingale and not the lark") Sony provides one of their important upcoming artists, Sonya Yoncheva, who recently received raves for her Gilda in the Met's Rigoletto and her Lucia at the Bastille Opera. It's an effective partnership: Yoncheva has the lyricism and also a richness of tone and dramatic commitment to match Grigòlo, who is at his best here. (She also sings Manon for two brief lines that punctuate Des Grieux's Act II reverie.)

Evelino Pidò and the RAI Symphony are important contributors to the recital's overall success. Note, for example, the mournful but not lugubrious pacing of the introduction to "Rachel, quand du Seigneur," or the enraptured accompaniment to Faust's aria. Sony's engineers place the orchestra somewhat discreetly behind the singer, but details like the solo clarinet and violin in the Faust aria are heard clearly enough.

Sony's CD booklet provides full French texts and thoughtful English translations (by Stewart Spencer), along with an essay, "Tenor as Poet: Vittorio Grigòlo in French Opera," and a two-page acknowledgement by the tenor, in which he thanks Pope Francis as well as his parents, Pidò and Sony's crew.





Sound Quality: 













































Quick Links

Audiophile Review Magazine
High-End Audio Equipment Reviews


Equipment Review Archives
Turntables, Cartridges, Etc
Digital Source
Do It Yourself (DIY)
Cables, Wires, Etc
Loudspeakers/ Monitors
Headphones, IEMs, Tweaks, Etc
Ultra High-End Audio Reviews


Enjoy the Music.TV


Editorials By Tom Lyle
Viewpoint By Roger Skoff
Viewpoint By Steven R. Rochlin
Various Think Pieces
Manufacturer Articles

Show Reports
Pacific Audio Fest 2022 Report
T.H.E. Show 2022 Report
HIGH END Munich 2022
AXPONA 2022 Show Report
CanJam Singapore 2022 Report
Salon Audio Montréal Audiofest 2022
Florida Audio Expo 2022
AudioCon Los Angeles 2022
Capital Audiofest 2021 Show
The HiFi Summit Q2 2021
T.H.E. Show 2021 Report
The HiFi Summit Q4 2020
The HiFi Summit Q2 2020
Bristol Hi-Fi Show Report 2020
Click here for previous shows.


Audiophile Contests
Cool Free Stuff For You
Tweaks For Your System
Vinyl Logos For LP Lovers
Lust Pages Visual Beauty


Resources & Information
Music Definitions
Hi-Fi Definitions


Daily Industry News

High-End Audio News & Information


Partner Print Magazines
Australian Hi-Fi Magazine
hi-fi+ Magazine
HiFi Media
Hi-Fi World
Sound Practices
The Absolute Sound
VALVE Magazine


For The Press & Industry
About Us
Press Releases
Official Site Graphics


Contests & Our Mailing List

Our free newsletter for monthly updates & enter our contests!




Home   |   Industry News   |   Equipment Reviews   |   Press Releases   |   About Us   |   Contact Us


All contents copyright©  1995 - 2022  HighEndAudio.com and Enjoy the Music.com®
May not be copied or reproduced without permission.  All rights reserved.