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Juan Diego Flórez’s new album is called Italia, which is rather vague, as is the programming. He veers from the usual Neapolitan songs such as ‘O sole mio’, on through composers like Rossini and Donizetti letting their hair down, to more modern classics. His glamorous tenor sails through everything with ease, and there are no vocal compromises. Perhaps this is part of the problem, for the album generally comes across as lacking light and shade. But there are some exceptions, and Flórez makes a good impression in the rather faded classics beloved of singers of yesteryear, such as Donaudy’s ‘Vaghissima sembianza’ and Gastaldon’s ‘Musica proibita’. Maybe he could have refined his selection to something more specialist, perhaps salon songs, those reflecting Stile Liberty? One thing he should never have attempted is ‘Nel blu, dipinto di blu’ (‘Volare’), where he sounds deeply uncomfortable. I’ve noticed before that Flórez, despite his many great abilities, doesn’t convey much of a sense of spontaneous fun (as opposed to rehearsed comedy). He sings with an intermittently effective variety of orchestrations, mandolin, accordion and so on. For fun I’ll stick with Roberto Alagna letting his hair down: he’s not afraid to be silly. Flórez is too self-conscious. The booklet contains no texts, which is stingy. However, it does tell us that the divo is dressed by Zegna, obviously vital.

Francis Muzzu Read the full review on Agora Classica

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