Canadian tenor Marc Hervieux has pursued careers both in opera and in pop repertoire, and this is his first solo album devoted exclusively to opera. His instrument is essentially attractive, full and warm if a little weak at the bottom. He sings with passion but without any special interpretive distinctiveness. This collection of verismo arias, plus a selection from La Traviata, is well suited to his strengths. Even so, his vocal production doesn't have the security and solidity necessary to make these truly distinguished performances. Technical problems include a lack of adequate support, giving his phrases a choppy quality, and he has frequent difficulty with releases, so that E lucevan le stelle, one of the more successful tracks, is spoiled by a gasp on the final note. Variable intonation is a troubling recurring issue. One thing about the album that can be recommended without reservation is the performance of Orchestra Métropolitain of Montreal. Under the confident and lively leadership of Yannick Nézet-Séguin, the group plays with the assurance and polish of a major international orchestra. Nézet-Séguin coaxes a creamy, rich sound from the strings in particular, and when appropriate, the group plays with refreshing briskness and attention to nuances in articulation that can tend to get glossed over in albums like this, where the accompaniment is often treated as an afterthought. The orchestra shines in the three tracks in which it's featured, the Intermezzos from Cavalleria rusticana and Manon Lescaut and Puccini's Preludio sinfonico. Atma Classique's sound is clean, present, and nicely ambient.
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AllMusic Review by Stephen Eddins