Ildar Abdrazakov / Rolando Villazón

Duets [2017]

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The male-male operatic duet album is certainly less common than the male-female variety, already sizzlingly explored by Rolando Villazón and Anna Netrebko at the height of what was rumored to be a liaison between them. But it has certain advantages: even in the group of Donizetti duets included on the program here, the pieces tend to be slices of the drama rather than set pieces. Villazón and bass Ildar Abdrazakov effectively inhabit these pieces, going beyond vocal heroics. A related attraction in a program like this is the importance of the orchestra, which has to do more than stay out of the way of the singers. The impetus for the project is said to have been Villazón's admiration for the Western hemisphere's conducting star of the moment, Yannick Nézet-Séguin, and his Orchestre Métropolitain de Montréal. Sample one of the comparatively rare duets from Boito's Mefistofele for a taste of the energy Nézet-Séguin brings throughout. The album's fun conclusion, with duet arrangements of a favorite of each of the singers (one Mexican, one Russian), is also notable, along with state-of-the-art operatic orchestral work. Recommended.

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