Il Trovatore marks Andrea Bocelli's third complete opera recording for Decca -- a move signaling that both parties are serious about his operatic singing. One of Verdi's most vocally demanding scores, calling for a stand-and-deliver quartet of lead singers, Trovatore is a puzzling choice for the light-voiced Bocelli -- a bit like sending your place kicker in to play linebacker. But, like his two previous efforts, Puccini evergreens Tosca and La bohéme, this recording is not an embarrassment. It's musically solid, decently sung, well engineered, and nicely packaged. And because of Bocelli's star power it will probably reach a broad audience. However, also like his previous efforts, it cannot compare with the many fine versions already on the market, and won't satisfy the expectations of those with the sound of Luciano Pavarotti, Jussi Björling, and Franco Corelli in their ears.
The talented young conductor Steven Mercurio leads this performance with confidence and authority, making the best overall impression of those involved with the project. As The Count of Luna, baritone Carlo Guelfi doesn't match the success he had as Scarpia in Bocelli's 2003 Tosca, but he nevertheless delivers a solid performance. The similarly capable Veronica Villarroel is not an especially compelling Leonora, but she has occasional moments of brilliance. Elena Zaremba is a suitably feisty Azucena, and Carlo Colombara makes an excellent impression as the soldier Ferrando; his opening scene with the soldier chorus is unusually engaging. Bocelli's performance is reminiscent of his other operatic work: occasionally exciting, but uneven, overdriven, and dramatically flat. But, you've got to hand it to the guy. For someone who is often accused of being an operatic poseur, he brings a tenacious high C to the end of "Di quella pira."