Given that the name of Enrico Caruso is known to music listeners who may not be able to name any other opera singer, it's a bit surprising that his legacy remains rather rarely explored on recordings. For that reason alone, tenor Roberto Alagna deserves kudos for Caruso 1873, named for the singer's birth year, but there's much more to enjoy here. Alagna does not imitate Caruso's style, which would have yielded a negative result, but he chooses ways of singing that evoke Caruso. For example, Caruso, without really going to the flat side of high notes, would inflect his vibrato to the flat side to create a sense of urgency, and Alagna evokes this quite uncannily. Alagna does not simply select Caruso favorites, either, but also incorporates works from his own repertory, such as the modern song Caruso, of Lucio Dalla, recorded earlier by Pavarotti and Josh Groban, among others. It will be striking for many listeners to hear how different Caruso's repertory was from the general operatic repertory of today, with many popular songs and melodies that were not part of operas at all. Alagna, as Caruso would have, arranges his program to include orchestral (from the Orchestre National de France under Yvan Cassar) and keyboard accompaniment, as well as various other singers and instrumentalists. A good deal of sonic manipulation was involved in the making of this album, most extremely on a bonus track that was recorded to sound like a session from Caruso's day. This recording is a thoroughly enjoyable reflection on a central part of the operatic legacy.
AllMusic Review by James Manheim
|Petite Messe solennelle|
|Serse HWV 40|
|I Lombardi alla prima crociata|
|Les Pêcheurs de perles|