TENOR DE NOS JOUR - REVIEW OF 'CONTRABANDISTA' - MEXICAN TENOR JAVIER CAMERENA'S CD DEBUT RECITAL ON THE DECCA LABEL
The star of Mexican tenor Javier Camarena has been on the ascendant over the past decade. Combining an arsenal of supreme vocal attributes, including a gleaming instrument of rare tonal beauty, even throughout its compass, replete with ringing high notes, and a dazzlingly accomplished coloratura facility, Camarena’s presence now dominates the international circuit - as was evidenced a while back by the ultimate accolade of encoring his Act 1 aria from Don Pasquale on the stage of New York’s Metropolitan Opera.
With his sensational debut recital on Decca, Camarena crowns his professional collaboration with superstar mezzo, Cecilia Bartoli - which has included critically lauded DVD releases from the Zurich Opera of Rossini’s Le Comte Ory and Otello in recent seasons. The high regard which the Italian diva accords the tenor is evident in virtually every aspect of this release, conceived as a celebration of the legendary Spanish tenor, composer and impresario, Manuel Garcia (1775 – 1832), the original Comte Almaviva in Il Barbiere di Siviglia.
The collection features five remarkable items by García himself, including three world premiere recordings, alongside items by Rossini and Zingarelli. For the programme’s centre-piece, Camarena is joined by Bartoli herself in the ravishing duet, ‘Amor.. Possente nome!’ from Rossini’s Armida.
The heart-stopping beauty of their singing here makes one long for a complete recording. Another highpoint is the exhilarating ease and fearless élan with which Camarena dispatches the final item, the fiendishly taxing aria and cabaletta, ‘S’ella mi é ognor fedele – Qual sara mai la gioia’ from Rossini’s Ricciardo e Zoraide. Released as part of the 30th anniversary of Bartoli’s relationship with Decca, Contrabandista makes a fine companion to Maria, Bartoli’s own tribute to Garcia’s iconic mezzo soprano daughter, Maria Malibran (1808 – 1836), issued a decade ago to mark her 20th anniversary with the label.