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Considering that Rolando Villazón has had consistent vocal problems, it was surprising that he made his post-surgery return to Covent Garden in 2011 as Werther, precisely the sort of role that had helped endanger his vocal health in the first instance. Recorded live, Villazón displays the plangency and dramatic involvement that made his name. Unfortunately he also displays some wayward vocalism, uncovered top notes, and loss of tonal patina – it’s a bumpy ride. He is coaxed along by Antonio Pappano’s conducting, which is rich in drama, less so in French sensitivity. Sophie Koch, although not the most distinctive voice, is dramatically alert and convincing as Charlotte. Audun Iversen and Eri Nakamura respectively provide Albert’s dullness and Sophie’s twittering, both vocally assured. If you’re a Villazón fan you’ll want it; if you want an exciting live version, stick with Domingo and Fassbaender from Munich, 1977.

Francis Muzzu Read the full review on Agora Classica

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