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A genuinely versatile tenor is a rare thing – Juan Diego Flórez has wisely kept within the boundaries of bel canto opera, and even Domingo has his limitations, as his very occasional forays into early opera have shown.

The American tenor Michael Spyres is another sort of creature entirely. His debut album, A Fool for Love, ranges from Rossini and Donizetti at their most florid, to the Romantic outpourings of Massenet and Puccini. Along the way, he takes in the likes of Cilea, Lehár and Stravinsky.

Spyres embraces these wide-ranging musical styles with a natural, attractive voice that can be a little monochrome but rarely shows any hint of strain. He’s at his best in the bel canto repertoire: the nerve-racking coloratura of ‘Cessa di più resistere’ from Rossini’s Barber of Seville is handled with a mixture of grace and energy (and without intrusive aspiration in the runs) while Donizetti’s plaintive ‘Una furtiva lagrima’ is beautifully phrased with plenty of burnished tone.

The tenor takes on a heavier set for the late-Romantic music – Lensky’s aria from Eugene Onegin, Werther’s ‘Pourquoi me réveiller’ – darkening the voice while retaining its freshness.

Spyres organises the arias to create a narrative about a journey through love from joy to anguish. The presentation is thoughtful, if rather contrived, and sometimes the lack of chronology in the musical styles doesn’t really work. Meanwhile, the contribution of the Moscow Chamber Orchestra under Constantine Orbelian is efficient if uninspired.

owever, there is a great deal to enjoy on this debut CD, from a voice that has charm and an easygoing fluency.

Francis Muzzu Read the full review on Agora Classica


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