Notes and Editorial Reviews
If Wagner's Tristan had lived in the 1940s instead of Medieval times, perhaps he would have crooned Ivor Novello's "Love is my reason for living" or serenaded his Isolde with Rudolf Friml's "Love me tonight." If these popular songs don't aspire to the transcendent rapture of Wagnerian opera, they do share a sense of absorption in sheer passion. Perhaps sensing this, Ben Heppner, acclaimed as the finest Wagnerian tenor of his generation, offers here a selection of the sentimental and nostalgic love songs sung on radio, stage and screen by earlier "crossover" stars such as Mario Lanza and Nelson Eddy.
Heppner, who sings even a demanding role such as Tristan emphasizing lyrical warmth, brings an appealingly direct quality to these songs, varying from the emphatic to the intimate in approach. If he misses the fun in some of the music (although he finds it in Mana-Zucca's swaggering "I love life") there is no doubting his affection for it, and the orchestrations by Jonathan Tunick are romantically enveloping without being schmaltzy. Familiar tunes like "I'll be seeing you" and Lanza's theme song "Be my love" are supplemented by appealing obscurities by Noel Coward and Eric Coates, among others, and Heppner's operatically supported high notes ring out in stirring celebration of these charming songs.
Opera News (2/2000) - "...Heppner's heroic good cheer and ebullient singing give a gilded edge to this album of old-fashioned favorites... reveling in their deep-purple lyrics and gloriously sentimental melodies ...he sounds as if he's having a wonderful time..."