Marco Berti: rare verismo

CD Michael Storrs music Ltd MSM 002

Mr. Berti is now one of the most sought after Italian tenors and this only proves the dearth of the species. His is not a voice of pure gold showing an unmistakeably timbre but nor was Bergonzi’s. Nevertheless musicality, a sense of style and original phrasing can compensate for much but those qualities too are not Mr. Berti’s strong points witness one of the most wretched Enzo Grimaldi’s on record. What he has is some strong tone, an acceptable top and lots of breath. Therefore it was an excellent idea to record him in these verismo pieces where declamation and passion are important and an unbroken legato so necessary for Verdi and his predecessors is less necessary.

Therefore Berti is quite acceptable in the thundering of Zandonai’s Giulietta e Romeo and Wally though one should better not go back too quickly to Del Monaco’s recordings for comparison. His Germania and Leoncavallo’s Io non ho are excellent too though one shouldn’t etc…(this time the name is Caruso). The Chatterton aria is very rare indeed.

Berti however should have left Maristella in peace as charm (so abundant on Pavarotti’s recording) is not his to show. The early Puccini arias are excellent. Still, the recording is severely handicapped by the orchestra or better part of an orchestra. The tenor is accompanied by the Parma Opera Ensemble. These ten players are no doubt very able to accompany instrumental players in the field of chamber music and I have no problems with them assisting vocalists in say Italian songs. But some of the pieces on this CD are among the heaviest orchestrated in the whole repertory and this thin sound is far from the sonorities imagined by Catalani for Giuseppe Hagenbach’s death, or Zandonai for the tragic moments of Romeo.

Future issues include Rare Verdi by Johan Reuter (Ed.)

Jan Neckers, Operanostalgia