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Opera Arias - Wojciech Drabowicz
26 Oct 2006

Opera Arias - Wojciech Drabowicz

Those familiar with Antoni Wit’s fine recording of Mahler’s Eighth Symphony will have encountered some Polish singers in the solo parts, and among them is the baritone Wojtek Drabowicz.

Opera Arias - Wojciech Drabowicz

Wojciech Drabowicz, baritone, Poznań Philharmonic Symphony Orchestra. Grzegorz Nowak (cond.)

Dux 0494A11904 [CD]

29.90 Zlotych ($9.79)  Click to buy

With much concert and stage experience to his credit, Drabowicz has recorded a number of well-know baritone arias that demonstrate not only facility with various works and styles. Among the highlights of this recording are the idiomatic interpretations of music from two Russian composers, Alexander Borodin and Peter Tchaikovsky.

The extended aria from Borodin’s Prince Igor is memorable for its almost flawless execution and solid interpretation. Taken from the scene in which Prince Igor recognizes his vast losses and yet retains his sense of duty. The aria is essentially a scena for baritone, and a critical point in the work. It is a telling moment from the opera, and Drabowicz captures the spirit of the music well and sustains not only the musical line, but also the emotional pitch of the excerpt.

Likewise, the excerpts from several of Tchaikovsky’s operas are notable for the arioso style he employs to bring across the musical line and also to present the text. The lyrical passages demonstrate Drabowicz’s fluid sound. Not only is his voice appealing, but he colors it well in shaping the line, as at the end of the excerpt from The Queen of Spades. Onegin’s aria is another fine example of Drabowicz’s command of Tchaikovsky’s style and his understanding of the musical and emotional demands of his particular number.

Drabowicz’s voice is quite effective in performing Verdi’s music, where the baritone roles demand equally lyricism and declamatory expression. His approach to Germont’s aria reflects a sense of melodrama through the inflection of various phrases and, at the same time, Drabowicz has colored his voice to fit the character. It differs in style from his more dramatic approach to the aria from Rigoletto, “Cortigiani,” which shows another aspect of the baritone’s voice.

With the inclusion of two almost obligatory arias from Mozart’s operas, the “Champagne” aria from Don Giovanni that opens the recording, and the Count’s aria from Le nozze di Figaro, the CD demonstrates Drabowicz’s abilities to cover most the standard repertoire for this voice. Added to it is a finely lyric interpretation of the Toreador’s aria from Carmen, which he executes well. In the final selection, Drabowicz demonstrates his facility with Wagner, repertoire that would seem demanding because of the scoring, not for the vocal line itself. Yet Drabowicz’s lyricism is never lost in the famous “Song to the Evening Star,” here presented in a somewhat subdued manner. It is welcome not to hear this delicate music not taken in the stentorian fashion that some used for this music. Moreover, the lingering sound suggests a promising Wolfram on stage for Tannhäuser

While Drabowicz’s credits do not yet include Wagner’s operas, his experience is notable for the number and variety of roles he has performed. In addition to the traditional bass-baritone roles in Mozart’s main operas, Drabowicz has performed in Il barbiere da Siviglia, I Puritani, The Queen of Spades, and such Verdi operas as Don Carlos and La forza del destino. In addition, he has also been part of productions as such works as Debussy’s Pelléas et Mélisande, Szymanowski’s King Roger, and Martinů’s Epic of Gilgamesh. Moreover, he has been part of various festivals in Europe and worked with such conductors as Claudio Abbado, Antoni Wit, and Sir Charles Mackeras.

This CD offers a fine introduction to a baritone who has much to offer. Yet of criticism can be leveled, it must be directed to the length of the recording, which is just about fifty minutes. With such an effective voice and a performer with Drabowicz’s experience, the ten selection s found on this recording do not seem like quite enough and, in a sense, it may be praise to want to hear more from this fine singer, whose accomplishments merit attention as he continues to perform repertoire roles and create new ones in recent compositions.

James L. Zychowicz

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