Last night Yonghoon Lee sang his first performance as Turiddu in Mascagni’s Cavalleria Rusticana at the Met. The Korean has been increasingly impressive since his debut at the New York house is 2010. Before the performance an assistant manager made an announcement that Lee was suffering from a cold, but would sing nevertheless. It’s a bad idea to plead illness and then sing. A singer should be able to give his best or not go on. Other than Lee’s presence the show was just another go at a perennial warhorse.
Lee has a beautiful spinto voice that he uses with great skill and sensitivity; it’s bright and rings. His voice is large and seems ready for the other half of the Cav and Pag double bill. In fact, one can easily imagine Otello in his future. His interpretation of Turiddu was the best I’ve heard at the Met since Richard Tucker. This is an exceptional voice.
Below are the ‘Siciliana’ and ‘Mamma, quel vino e generoso’ sung by Lee last night and Tucker from a 1964 Met performance. You can judge for yourself the relative worths of the two great tenors. Lee’s final high note at the end of the aria is a little strained – a result of his cold?