Anna Netrebko / Elina Garanča / Ramón Vargas / Ludovic Tézier THE OPERA GALA Live from Baden-Baden

. . . their voices blending beautifully . . . all done with spirited fervor and admirable vocalism. Tenor Ramón Vargas is a positive presence, giving us the bel canto gem "Una furtive lagrima" from Donizetti's "L'elisir d'amore" in a flawlessly idiomatic interpretation that includes stunning diminuendos and a melting mezza-voce. Ludovic Tézier's rich baritone scores with a subtle rendition of Riccardo's death scene from Verdi's "Don Carlo" and, in yet another highlight in an evening full of them, joins Vargas in the great duet "Dio, che nell'alma infondere" from that opera . . . her [Garanca's] showpiece aria from Rossini's "La Cenerentola" sparkles, with impressive coloratura fireworks. Netrebko is among the most brilliant stars of today's operatic firmament . . . She brings the house down with the first of the concert's many encores, a performance of Lehar's "Meine Lippen" from the operetta, "Giuditta", that includes seductive singing and acting, sexual flirtations, and energetic dancing. Her enthusiasm is infectious, sparking her colleagues as well as the audience. All four singers join in the quartet from "Rigoletto" that ends the formal portion of the concert, and in the final encore, they trade verses in an arrangement of the "Drinking Song" from "La Traviata". Conductor Marco Armiliato, whose supportive accompaniments help make the concert a rousing success, directs the capable orchestra. So this two-hour singfest provides joys for vocal buffs . . . (Record Review / Dan Davis)

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