You can let star tenor Roberto Alagna summarize the aims of this album himself (in brutal, unforgivable, gray-on-brown print): dedicated to his daughter Malèna, "This is doubtless the most intimate and personal album I have made." You may then wonder why Neapolitan and Sicilian songs, popular materials that aim for broad appeal rather than intimate and personal experience, would be chosen for such a project. It's true that something like Funiculì Funiculà is a bit odd in such a context, but several factors mitigate the potential contradiction. One is that several of the tracks are new, composed by Alagna's brothers Frédérico and David, with input on the title track from Roberto Alagna himself. The family's ancestry is Sicilian, but mastery of this idiom is nonetheless an impressive and, yes, personal thing. Second, the Sicilian songs as a group are not nearly as familiar, individually or in style, as the Neapolitan ones are, and especially here Alagna seems to choose songs that could be interpreted as referring to the renewing love of father for daughter. Finally, Alagna, even though he came from France, just seems to have this idiom in his bones, in a way that Jonas Kaufmann, to name another recent entrant in this repertory, does not, for all the vocal beauty on display. With sympathetic backing from a mysterious and largely uncredited London Orchestra under conductor Yvan Cassar, this is a release sure to satisfy Alagna fans and those looking for something new in the repertoire of popular Italian song.
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AllMusic Review by James Manheim