29 Nov 2005

Michele Pertusi - Recital

Bass-baritone Michele Pertusi’s voice is captured in this recital disc after only two years of formal studies. Taking this into account one can forgive what he calls “imperfections: a few, slight musical errors, some invented or switched words, a Neapolitan pronunciation that is not quite perfect, an English one which could be improved on, a few marred notes.”

If the dates in the liner notes are correct, it is difficult to imagine the singer is only nineteen years old at the time of this recital. His voice is richly colored, expressive, secure, with a smooth tone, and he displays the bravura of a seasoned performer. It is, for sure, an ambitious recital but Pertusi is not intimidated by the music, nor the public for whom he is singing. The recital includes selections by Mozart, Rossini, Verdi, and songs by Tosti, Denza, de Curtis, Tagliaferri, Porter and Rodgers. For an encore the young singer chose songs by Bixio, and Falvo. He also reprises two previous selections: Verdi’s cabaletta from Attila, “Oltre quel limite,” and Denza’s song, “Vien!”

Though Pertusi has a well deserved reputation for his interpretations of Mozart and Rossini, in this recital he is at his best singing the four Verdi Arias, and in some of the songs.

In Ernani’s “Infelice, e tuo credevi,” Pertusi exhibits some of the flaws he mentions in the above quote, however, his overall delivery is emotional, and he executes an unexpected trill at the end of the aria. Don Carlo’s Filippo is not a role for a young bass, however, Pertusi sings “Ella giammai m’amò” as though he were much older. The listener feels the character’s pain through the pathos imbued by young Pertusi into his singing, and he ends the aria with a beautiful diminuendo which he floats over the faint, last notes coming from the cello. In “O tu Palermo” from Vespri Siciliani Pertusi faithfully follows the different emotions of the aria, and once again he ends the aria floating the seemingly endless final notes. In Attila’s “Mentre gonfiarse l’anima...Oltre quel limite...” Pertusi easily displays the melancholy in the aria with his lush, rich voice, and the soaring, fiery melody in the cabaletta. There is a well deserved call for “Bis,” several “Bravos” and long applause at the end of this piece.

Luigi Denza’s song “Vieni” and Tagliaferri’s “Passione,” reminiscent of Leoncavallo’s “Vesti la giuba” are filled with pathos and emotion which Pertusi easily provides in his interpretation.

English speaking audiences will delight in the singer’s rendition of Porter’s “So in Love” from Kiss me Kate, and Rodgers’ “Some Enchanted Evening” from South Pacific.

The Parma Opera Ensemble ably provides accompaniment to the singer, at times sounding much larger than its ten members. The Ensemble has a solo, the “Sinfonia” to Rossini’s La Cenerentola.

The liner notes include a brief commentary by the singer and a candid interview with him, conducted by Stefano Olcese.

This recording, released twenty years after Pertusi made his operatic debut, is not for those who are seeking the mature singer, but for those who want a window into the singer’s early career. A delightful performance, for sure, where all is forgiven in exchange of the excitement and pleasure the young Pertusi provides the audience and CD listener, alike.

Daniel Pardo