Notes and Editorial Reviews
THE ART OF THE BASS
Carlo Colombara (bs); György G. Ráth, cond; Swiss Italian O; Vladimir Ghiaurov, cond;
Bulgarian Natl SO & Op Ch;
Fabrizio Milani, cond;
Prague Tchaikovsky O
NAXOS 2.110612 (DVD: 68:28)
Ecco il mondo.
Vous faites l’endormie.
Il Barbiere di Siviglia:
Ella giammai m’amo.
Il lacerate spirito.
Tu sul labbro.
Mentre gonfiarsi l’anima parea.
Farewell of Boris
This rather unusual DVD on the Naxos label features a series of opera aria videos like you might see for rock music on MTV. The arias, featuring Italian
Carlo Colombara, appear to have been recorded over a span of three years with three different orchestras and conductors and lip-synced on the videos. The productions are all top-notch, with sumptuous period costumes, appropriate and appealing sets, a good chorus, and several dancers and extras who also appear throughout. The music is well sung by Colombara, a seasoned performer now in mid career and known particularly for his Verdi roles. Colombara premiered at the Metropolitan Opera as Ramfis in
in 1995 and has subsequently appeared there quite often in that role. This season he has appeared as Zaccaria in the Met production of
Colombara sings an aria from
here, “Tu sul labbro de’ veggenti” from the second scene of act II, as well as three other Verdi works: Jacopo Fiesco’s aria from the prolog of
King Phillip’s act III aria from
, and an aria from the title character in
They are all sung very well indeed and serve to showcase the bass’s Verdian credentials. Opening the video is a nonsinging segment with flamenco dancers performing to a rapid percussion beat and their own rhythmic clapping, but this proves to be a natural and excellent introduction to Colombara’s opening presentation of “Votre toast,” the matador Escamillo’s aria from
unusual fare for a bass, but richly and excellently sung here. We also get two devils, one from Gounod’s
and one from Boito’s
the latter of which includes more fine dancing, a bit of it topless. Colombara also sings Aleko’s Cavatina from the rarely performed one-act Rachmaninoff opera
, the composer’s Russian answer to Italian
as well as another Russian-language aria from
. I can provide no assessment of the singer’s pronunciation. In one oddity Colombara sings “La Calumnia” from Rossini’s
Il barbiere di Siviglia
with his head completely bald and painted white while he is bobbing around in a giant bowl of white and red balls on a red velvet liner, like a giant centerpiece on a table. It seemingly has nothing to do with Rossini’s opera or the meaning of the aria, but is certainly eye-catching.
It all proves to be quite entertaining, both for the rarely collected bass opera repertoire and for the fine performances of Colombara, both musical and dramatic. You might think listening to an hour’s worth of bass arias would prove about as entertaining as a tuba recital, but not so, to my ears at least, and the cleverly staged visual elements add greatly to the total package. Subtitles can be selected in the original language, in English translation, or can be left off entirely. Original texts are also available on the Naxos website. My only quibble is the somewhat miserly 68-minute duration of the DVD, which is capable of holding much more.
FANFARE: Bill White
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