E lucevan le stelle
Here’s an unusual instance where I turn to a beloved tenor aria instead. Not being a Puccini aficionado, I first noticed E lucevan le stelle on the Calleja recital I wrote about a (good) while ago. However I wasn’t satisfied with just one rendition so one night in February I went through those of Caruso, Domingo, Carreras, Pavarotti, Kaufmann and Lanza.
My favourite by far was Carreras, who seemed to me the most Cavaradossi-like of the lot. Caruso, and to some extent, Lanza, amused me with their OTT dramatics which I found of questionable taste. Pavarotti was Pavarotti, which was his own downfall (I wanted a sense of the character). Domingo was beautiful but perhaps too bonhomme for Cavaradossi? Kaufmann’s version was pitch black in tone but came off muddled in details. Carreras truly shone here for me. Direct and clear, strong (but breathtaking pp touches), troubled (out of this bunch his tone reflected that best), just the right amount of drama, no trace of schmalz – gorgeous all around.