Ildar Abdrazakov (b 1976) has been one of the world’s leading basses since making his Met debut in 2004 as Masetto in Don Giovanni. These days he sings the title role with the company. The Russian singer has a varied repertoire which includes many Verdi’s roles. Deutsche Grammophon recently released a recital disc by Abdrazakov simply called Verdi. The playlist is below. Click to enlarge it to a readable size. If you download the recital you will get the Don Carlo aria in its original French version in addition to the Italian version on the CD.
Verdi wrote great music for all the vocal ranges. Opera’s greatest composer is universal because of his preternatural ability to portray with decisive insight the basic states of consciousness and emotions common to all mankind. If you would have the truest insight to the human condition look to the plays of Shakespeare and the operas of Verdi.
Abdrazakov has a supple voice that takes to the Verdian line with grace and ease His high notes are rich. What he lacks is the dark and menacing sound common to the typical Slavic bass. This is not a great deficiency when the music is by an Italian composer. This disc reminds the listener of how much great music Verdi wrote for the bass voice. It starts with excerpts from Oberto, Conte di San Bonifacio, Verdi’s first opera and goes via Nabucco, Ernani, Atilla, Macbeth, Luisa Miller, I Vespri Siciliani, Simon Boccanegra, to Don Carlo. The last being the apex of Verdi’s writing for the bass.
The Russian singer is greatly aided by the sensitive and vigorous conducting by Yannick Nézet-Séguin leading the Orchestre Métropolitain de Montréal. The Canadian conductor has vaulted to the top of the world’s maestro rankings; he seemingly is everywhere without losing an ounce of conductorial excellence. Tenor Rolando Villazón appears briefly on the recital.
Here’s Silva’s aria from the first act of Ernani. He’s another old man who lusts after a young girl. Of course she doesn’t want him; she also isn’t interested in the baritone. Like all self respecting Verdi heroines she will settle for nothing less than the tenor. Infelice!… e tu credevi… che mai vegg’io! captures the old man’s disappointment at catching his fiance in her bedroom with not one, but two men. The cabaletta ‘Infin che un brando vindice’ was added a few months after the opera’s premiere. It recycles music from Oberto. Verdi’s ucanny ability to depict the emotional center of even his unsympatheic characters is unmatched.
The disc (or download) is highly recommended to those who like recitals by outstandings singers and/or Verdi lovers.