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Cat. No. CHAN 3118 Price: £9 No. of discs: 1
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CHAN 3118 - Great Operatic Arias, Vol. 16 - Sir Thomas Allen
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Available From: 10 January 2005
In addition to a number of concert dates in London throughout the spring of next year, Sir Thomas Allen will be appearing from 7-18 March in Così Fan Tutte at the Bayerische Staatsoper and in Madam Butterfly and Il Turco in Italia at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, in April-June.

A fascinating document of a truly great British artist.

Available at mid-price.

Over a long, happily still growing career Sir Thomas Allen has carved benchmarks on certain operatic roles. Has there been a funnier, more rueful Papageno, a more charmingly fatuous yet dangerous Count in Figaro, a more manipulative Don Alfonso? For many years, the Don Giovanni of the day, world-wide, his Mozart interpretations are legendary, but his repertoire is far broader than just Mozart. One of the most striking things about him is his versatility, which is reflected in this recital disc: he sings everything from Rossini to Richard Rodgers, via Verdi, Wagner and Puccini. That is not to mention Faust, Billy Budd, and the Forester in The Cunning Little Vixen. As if his unique voice were not enough, central to his success is his skill as an actor, and in whatever he sings he makes the words an essential part of the musical line.

The works on this disc provide a unique showcase of Sir Thomas Allen’s unique gifts. For sheer technical virtuosity, listen to Figaro’s entrance aria from The Barber of Seville – an aria which requires agility, untold reserves of breath control and the ability to project words at high speed – or Count Almaviva’s furious aria from The Marriage of Figaro. Mozart rewrote the second part of the aria for the first performances in Vienna in 1789, a version rarely performed and one that takes the baritone almost into the tenor register. For characterisation, listen to ‘Billy in the Darbies’, from Billy Budd. Few have sung the title role with such insight. From the sublime to the hugely entertaining: Sir Thomas has embraced both high art and light music during his career, giving memorable stage performances of both Strauss’s Eisenstein and Lehár’s Count Danilo. The lighter side of his repertoire is represented by the ‘Watch Duet’ from Die Fledermaus, ‘The Cavalry Duet’ from The Merry Widow, Billy’s ‘Soliloquy’ from Carousel and the seductive ‘In Vision’s, illusions’ from Korngold’s Die tote Stadt.

As always, Allen was a supremely intelligent recitalist, matching sound with sense, probing the meaning of a text without fracturing the vocal line.
The Guardian

Allen had the perfect measure of expressive pace and scale…a most artful balance between the intimate and the rhetorical.
The Times

Put the question ‘what would you choose to describe operatic singing?’ and you would get no doubt a fine list of adjectives, some of them what is called ‘choice’, but it is doubtful whether ‘natural’ would be among them. Play a couple of items from this recital and there is a fair chance that that would be exactly the word which the same people would use if asked to describe the singing there. Natural and sincere: no posing, no rhetoric, and certainly no playing to the gallery.

This anthology of some of Allen’s greatest roles, from Mozart to Richard Rodgers, is real fan-club fodder – and more. The disc, with its accompanying booklet generously packed with photos and enhanced by Rodney Milnes’s elegant and illuminating commentary, bears all the marks of a lovingly engineered ad produced artefact, with commitment and affection ringing out of every track.

How good to have this anthology of Thomas Allen’s versatility in a wide range of his operatic roles…anyone who cherishes good singing will rejoice in this great baritone’s smooth legato, perfect diction, subtle characterisation and, of course, beautiful and unmistakable voice.
The Sunday telegraph

The Allen baritone is in full, eloquent form, with a ring of mature authority and faultless diction.
Financial Times

The years might be catching up with Allen’s tonal lustre, but his ability to communicate in a wide range of roles remains undimmed. Stylish accompaniments and excellent sound.
BBC Music Magazine

The Baritone is just past 60, but his voice is healthy as ever. He still has the agility for Rossini’s Fgaro, and he sings the Count’s aria (from Mozart’s ‘Figaro’) in a seldom-heard ersion that raises the tessitura almost to the tenor range… Fine sound and accompaniements, and the usual deluxe Chandos package
American Record Guide


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