THE WONDERFUL FABIO ARMILIATO
I've left the best till last. I had vaguely heard of the Italian tenor Fabio Armiliato, but had never seen him in action before. Now I am thinking "Oh my gods, when will I get to see this guy in action again?" I had booked expecting to see José Cura, who goodness knows is worth the trip, but he had gone down with the flu and was unable to sing. Enter Mr Armiliato; for me, a completely new discovery (though clearly not for the rest of the world - he has a lot of big rôles under his belt, but it seems he doesn't sing in the UK much). At first I thought he was holding back slightly; perhaps he hadn't quite got the feel of the House yet. But round about "A me il trionfo...a me l'Amore", he just started to open out and give it everything, and was suddenly riding this beautiful ringing voice out over the orchestra and really sounding like the hero Calaf needs to be. Acts two and three were simply stunning.
He's tall and presentable, and is the best kind of actor, ie subtle, totally natural and inward - no tubthumping, no trick-playing, no ham; and he has a splendid voice. Really gorgeous sound, with all the things I love; strength and colour and feeling, and a lovely bell-like clarity. Not Cura's blackened-bronze colour, but bright and golden, and with rich depths of tone; a hoppy, real-ale gold rather than a crisp lager-y one. And it is a pleasure always to hear someone sing as if they really understand and mean every word.
"Nessun Dorma" can so easily be churned out on autopilot these days; but not with this guy. When one adds to the quality of his performance the fact that he was a stand-in, new to the production, with at most three or four days rehearsal; and he has only sung in the house once before, for one night only... Yet he was totally integrated and committed to the production, and was certainly by miles the best Calaf I've seen. Damn it, I've got a new hero; goodness knows when I'll get another dose of his work, though...
IMOGEN's BLOG - INTERNET FORUM 16 Gennaio 2009