Sunday, February 5, 2012
Gianfranco Cecchele: A Great and Under-Publicized Tenor
Listening to a bit of Cecchele erases all doubts about the greatness of the voice and his abilities as a singer and actor. One of his signature roles, from the beginning, had been Calaf, and here is a superb rendition of "Non Piangere, Liu"
Isn't that wonderful! The clarity of the voice, along with the richness and fullness, is positively thrilling. This is a great voice, no doubt about it. And, not coincidentally, Cecchele was a handsome man, and restrained in his acting. This is a 1968 TV video, when he would have been 30. I do not have sufficient information to know if this was during the period of recuperation from his vocal troubles or not; judging from the relative ease of the production, I would assume he was learning how to take it a little easier...there does not appear to be any stress in evidence here.
Here is an aria recorded in 1981, when he would have been 43, stable and in complete control of his voice: "La mia letizia infondere," from Verdi's I Lombardi:
Absolutely superb! The quality of the voice is beautiful and well controlled; the top is entirely intact and completely in line with all the registers; that was a B natural near the end, and it was perfect and, most importantly, not overstressed or unduly elongated. In a word, it was exemplary, both vocally and stylistically.
Finally the big tenor aria from Turandot, "Nessun Dorma," from a 1981 filmed production:
I find it impossible to fault this singing; this rendition of "Nessun Dorma" will stand with that of any other tenor, and seriously exceeds the efforts of many, some of them much more famous. Cecchele was, simply put, a superb tenor.
There are reasons, as I pointed out earlier, why Cecchele was not well known in the United States. Certainly the most important is that he was, it seems, perfectly happy to sing in Italy. Not everyone, after all, wants to spend half their career lives on airplanes. There is also the fact that there was something of a lock-out on some Italian tenors in the United States during the 70's and 80's. That is one of the reasons another great dramatic tenor, Giuseppe Giacomini, was seen so seldom here. But that, as they say, is a discussion for another time.
at 12:19 PM