Spain Recital: Leo Nucci: Ramón Tébar (piano), Teatro Rosalía de Castro, La Coruña, 4.9.2015 (JMI)
Between the two scheduled performances of Il Trovatore, La Coruña presented a compelling recital by Italian baritone Leo Nucci. Attending a concert by the great baritone is always a special occasion, and with good reason. On top of his genuine talent, there is his miraculous longevity and his generosity towards the audience. To this one might add some curiosity about whether the decline that will inevitably come has begun. Well, our high expectations were more than met: the recital resulted in a new triumph for Leo Nucci.
The first section of the program featured little-known works that were not of great vocal relevance: three prayers by Giuseppe Verdi, a song by Vincenzo Bellini with a text by Metastasio (“Per Pietà, bell’idol mine”) and two other Verdi pieces. I found Nucci less impressive here, almost inaudible in the lower notes and with vibrato that I had not noted before. This segment was useful mainly for Nucci to warm up his voice, and everything changed in the second half.
Opera now became the focus of the program, and there’s no doubt that Nucci especially shines in opera, rather than in lieder or song. He began with an excellent interpretation of the Guglielmo Tell aria “Resta immobile,” and followed with a brilliant rendering of Riccardo’s aria from I Puritani, “Ah, per semper io ti perdei.” He was at his best in “Qui mi accolse” from Beatrice di Tenda. Finally, he significantly raised the emotional temperature of the theatre with the Poliuto aria “Di tua beltade immagine” and, above all, with “Vien, Leonora” from La Favorita.
Leo Nucci’s generosity was fully in evidence at the encores, which were the best part of the recital. There were four encores, all opera arias and rather difficult ones, and the house was fully appreciative. The encores were “Largo al factotum,” where Nucci showed how exceptional his Figaro has always been. Then he sang the entire scene of Posa’s death from Verdi’s Don Carlo, which was really impressive. He continued with the recitative and aria by Renato, “Eri tu,” where he was superb, and finished with nothing less than “Nemico della patria” from Andrea Chenier.
You have to take your hat off to this exceptional singer and his ability to communicate with the audience. Leo Nucci at 73 is a miracle of nature, and it seems that he still has a long career ahead of him.
He was nicely accompanied at the piano by Ramón Tebar, who performed a solo in the first part, a Chopin Nocturne; and two studies by the same composer in the second half. It should be noted that Leo Nucci at all times shared his success with Ramón Tebar.
Jose M. Irurzun