Roberto Alagna "le Sicilien"

CD DGG 4801302 (2008)

When we think of Sicilian songs the inevitable name of Giuseppe di Stefano comes to mind. Di Stefano set a standard hard to beat but that shouldn't prevent you from purchasing this very enjoyable compilation. The only thing I thought distressing about it were the "pizzeria-like" arrangements; yes that's how you would likely hear the songs performed in a local Sicilian pizzeria but in my 'de gustibus' a normal orchestral accompaniment would have added something extra : i.e. the more classical and less folk touch. Nevertheless Alagna is in great voice and the tessitura of these songs is all but demanding. Moreover most of the songs are new to me and I was quite taken by "parla più piano" based on Nino Rota's theme of the Godfather. Alagna is also the first tenor since Pavarotti to create his own song helped by his brother Frederico who's responsible for a fine and memorable ninna nanna tune . There's another Sicilian besides Di Stefano and Alagna who recorded several Sicilian songs and that's Marcello Giordani (on CD VAI 1229). It's another wonderful disc. Giordani is in superb voice and is in much better voice than on his Naxos operatic recital. Steven Mercurio's arrangements and Giordani's singing add a welcome operatic touch. Their recording was made live in the beautiful city of Catania which adds an extra local touch of involvement and fervour. Judging from the audience's reaction in Catania they knew they were experiencing something special. Both Alagna and Giordani are fine tenors and these 'ditties' provided great enjoyment to this listener at last. After all we can't listen to Che gelida manina eternally, right?

Rudi van den Bulck