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Emmanuel Villaume conducts Bryan Hymel’s debut album, Héroïque, leading the PFK-Prague Philharmonia with great style. Like Yoncheva, Hymel has stood in for illustrious colleagues, most notably replacing Jonas Kaufmann in Les Troyens in both London and New York, and taking the title role in Robert le diable at Covent Garden, originally planned for Juan Diego Flórez.

His recording reveals him in stunning voice, taking him chronologically through French arias from Rossini’s Guillaume Tell to Rabaud’s Rolande et le mauvais garçon, a curiosity from 1934. Anyone who opens their programme with such a plethora of high Cs is surely confident, and the thrills keep on coming, not least with the little-recorded cabaletta ‘O paradis’ from L’Africaine, revealing an intensity worthy of Vezzani. The voice is compact and virile, with a dark hue and naturally high placement. Heroic indeed. Hymel also uses a voix mixte to great effect, and can float a line without resorting to crooning. His two Berlioz arias, sensitively shaped, are as dramatically effective as the more lurid numbers by Gounod and Reyer. With excellent sound, superb singing and an intriguing selection of arias, this is highly recommended.

Francis Muzzu Read the full review on Agora Classica

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