CD Review: Baritenor (Erato, 2022)

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This page is also available in / Cette page est également disponible en: Francais (French)

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    5

Baritenor
Michael Spyres, baritone-tenor; Orchestre philharmonique de Strasbourg; Marko Letonja, conductor.
Erato, 2022

Tenor Michael Spyres is a name known to all opera buffs, his reputation hinging on a repertoire of light operatic fare. Critics rave about his performances of Italian arias by Donizetti and Bellini, but native French speakers give him high marks for his impeccable diction of lyrics in their own tongue. That said, the star vocalist has another ace in his deck. In his latest effort, entitled Baritenor and issued on the Erato label, he sticks to his usual range while dropping it a few steps into baritone territory, something rarely done and not to be attempted by just any singer. In fact, some may well view this undertaking with a jaundiced eye and question its motives.

Though Spyres’s forays in that lower register sound full and well-rounded, there is something unnaturally deep and sombre to the 43-year-old vocalist’s dalliances with it. But when he takes on Donizetti’s famous cabaletta “Pour mon âme quel destin” and other celebrated tenor arias, it’s as if his vocal range had no limits at all. Hence the question: why should this voice of the first order take on another range than the one it excels in all regards? No matter what one cares to think about it, the album is still worth a listen. Inasmuch as Spyres tackles with great aplomb the songs of Verdi, Mozart, Wagner and Rossini, he still offers a real bouquet of musical sounds, regardless of his vocal choices.

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About Author

Justin Bernard est détenteur d’un doctorat en musique de l’Université de Montréal. Ses recherches portent sur la médiation musicale, notamment par le biais des nouveaux outils numériques, ainsi que sur la relation entre opéra et cinéma. Membre de l’Observatoire interdisciplinaire de création et de recherche en musique (OICRM), il a réalisé une série de capsules vidéo éducatives pour l’Orchestre symphonique de Montréal. Justin Bernard est également l’auteur de notes de programme pour le compte de la salle Bourgie du Musée des Beaux-Arts de Montréal et chargé de cours à l’Université de Sherbrooke. Par ailleurs, il anime une émission d’opéra et une chronique musicale à Radio VM (91,3 FM).

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