Michael Fabiano received the 2014 Richard Tucker Award a few months ago. The 30 year old tenor has already sung at many of the world’s major opera houses. The great American tenor after whom the award is named had never performed in any opera house when he was 30.
The Richard Tucker awardee sings in a gala held in the Fall and later broadcast on PBS. Fabiano appeared in three operatic excerpts at the 2014 gala. They show both his strengths and weakness. He has a very attractive lyric voice that could with care develop into a spinto as did Tucker’s tenor. But his top notes are often produced with strain and are not focused. This is a problem that Tucker had at the start of his career. The clarion trumpet like high notes that were associated with his work came after he had been singing at the Met for more than five years.
At the gala Fabiano sang Corrado’s aria Tutto parea sorridere from Verdi’s Il Corsaro. The beautiful piece was very well sung. The high note at the end of the cabaletta was fairly well focused.
Fabiano second offering at the concert was the St Sulpice duet from Massenet’s Manon with soprano Joyce El-Khoury. The singing was fine, though almost all of the white hot sexual passion was absent.
Fabiano’s final appearance in the concert was in the Sextet and Act 2 Scene 2 finale of Donizetti’s Lucia Di Lammermoor. Edgardo’s final outburst just before the finale is set high and Fabiano voice shreds when he utters it.
There have been a succession of American tenors ready to assume Richard Tucker’s place in opera’s pantheon, but so far 40 years after the great singer’s death none has succeeded. How Fabiano will fare should become apparent over the next few years. Right now he he has a pleasant, but not fully formed voice. His interpretations tend towards the bland.
The great tenors of the last century, those who left a legacy of recordings, all have a style and personality that makes them immediately recognizable. A few, like Jussi Björling and Giuseppe Di Stefano, seem to have emerged fully formed, but most of the other great ones had to work hard to archive the excellence they achieved after the passage of considerable time. Examples of theses singers include Caruso, Melchior, Tucker, and Corelli.
If you want to watch the 2014 Gala go here. PBS will keep it up until January 2018.