Dolce Vita

Dolce Vita

by Jonas KaufmannJonas Kaufmann




Some spectacular efforts in standard operatic roles have brought tenor Jonas Kaufmann to the point of emerging as the current generation's Pavarotti or Domingo, and the release of an album of popular Italian songs fits into the marketing plan. Said plan comes complete with brutally stereotyped verbiage in the graphics ("even in the darkest moment, the Italian finds a way to put a little bit of powdered sugar on top and to continue finding sweetness in life") that have supposedly come from Kaufmann himself, purported to have a special understanding of the culture because, growing up in Munich, he was only a day's drive away from Italy. The plan may well succeed. Kaufmann is in fine voice, and this alone will appeal to his growing legion of fans. He respects the basic simplicity of the material, never overwhelming it with vocal heroics. And he's got a good, organic program of Italian and Neapolitan classics to work with, avoiding chestnuts, pulling a few rarities off the scrap heap of history, and incorporating some of the recent additions that show the continuing vitality of this tradition. These include the Nino Rota "Godfather" classic "Parla più piano" and a song, Lucio Dalla's "Caruso," originally written for the aging Pavarotti. If you're going to compete with him, you'd better bring your A game, and Kaufmann's technically unimpeachable, but curiously detached, reading doesn't cut it. The Orchestra del Teatro Massimo di Palermo under Asher Fisch has the right slightly loose sound for the music, and there are many tunes that may well connect with one or another individual listener. Sample to see if Kaufmann's way with these evergreen songs is for you.

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