Sunday, January 8, 2012
Léopold Simoneau: The Art of Elegant Lyricism
His sense of style and finely tuned singing technique is something easily appreciated from hearing it, as opposed to someone talking about it! Here is the lovely "Un'aura amorosa," from Mozart's Così Fan Tutte:
Isn't that lovely! The legato line is perfect, and the smoothness of his singing is truly astonishing. This little aria is much trickier artistically that it might seem. The back and forth movement over the passagio can be treacherous, and it is not at all easy to maintain a smooth legato in the process. This is exemplary Mozart singing, and in fact Simoneau was praised throughout his career as one of the very greatest of Mozart singers.
It was not only in Mozart, of course, that he excelled. As a French-speaking tenor, the transition to operas such as Bizet's Pearl Fishers was natural. Here is the famous and beautiful aria "Je crois entendre encore:"
That is supremely beautiful, and vocally matches even the most famous tenors of all time (and I think every professional tenor has recorded it!) and is, I must say, far more convincing stylistically and linguistically that the versions of many well-known tenors. Simoneau is squarely within his favored repertoire!
Finally, an unusual piece. The music itself is very well known (Orpheus' heart-breakingly beautiful "che farò senza Euridice") but it is almost always sung by a contralto or mezzo-soprano. In France, however the piece was mounted as a French 18th-century style opera, with Orpheus sung by a tenor. This may sound a bit unusual to those who have heard only the contralto version, because dramatically the tenor best represents the role and the music as a male heart-broken lover who has lost his beloved, and the dramatic inflections which Simoneau makes place the piece slightly outside the more concert-like lilting, legato versions of female singers. I think it's a small matter, because the piece gains much in the (appropriate, I think) drama of its presentation. See what you think:
I find this very moving, and I think it works perfectly well.
Simoneau's career was one of very high musical and stylistic quality , and his recordings still bear eloquent testimony to that fact!
at 1:46 PM