Opera arias by
Bizet · Berlioz · Massenet
Gounod · Verdi
Diana Damrau
Orchestre de l'Opéra National de Lyon
Alain Altinoglu
Int. Release 16 Feb. 2015
1 CD / Download
0289 479 4101 9

Track List

Jules Massenet (1842 - 1912)

Act 3

Le Cid

Act 3

Hector Berlioz (1803 - 1869)
La Damnation de Faust, Op. 24, H 111

Pt. 3

Béatrice et Bénédict, H.138

Act 1

Giuseppe Verdi (1813 - 1901)
Don Carlos

Act 1

François-Adrien Boiëldieu (1775 - 1834)
La Dame blanche

Acte 2

Gaetano Donizetti (1797 - 1848)
La Favorite

Act 4


Charles Gounod (1818 - 1893)
Roméo et Juliette, CG 9

Act 2

Faust, CG 4

Act 3

Georges Bizet (1838 - 1875)
Carmen, WD 31

Act 2

Gaetano Donizetti (1797 - 1848)
Dom Sébastien, Roi de Portugal

Act 2

Piotr Beczala, Orchestre de l'Opera National de Lyon, Alain Altinoglu

Jules Massenet (1842 - 1912)

Act 5

Piotr Beczala, Diana Damrau, Orchestre de l'Opera National de Lyon, Alain Altinoglu

Total Playing Time 1:02:51

On the evidence of this disc his voice is in marvellous condition, eminently well suited to this Romantic French milieu . . . Especially impressive is the opening aria "Toute mon âme -- Pourquoi me réveiller" known as "Ossian's Song" from Massenet's "Werther" . . . Noticeable almost immediately is the tenor's single cream consistency of tone. He is not given to the sort of over-brightness that can soon become tiresome. As he generates intense despair the tenor reveals an uncommon weeping quality. Another highlight is Fernando's lovely aria "Ange si pur" from Donizetti's "La Favorite" . . . Expressing his intense sorrow in the moving cavatina Beczala demonstrates a polished and steadfast technique that allows the production of attractive colours with irresistible freshness. These travel through his high register with relative ease. He is so well suited to the glorious "Salut! demeure chaste et pure" from Gounod's "Faust" and in "La fleur que tu m'avais jetée" from Bizet's "Carmen" the tenor creates an unalloyed passion leaving affecting tears in its wake. Also compellingly sung is the cavatina "Seul sur la terre . . . Ange céleste" from Donizetti's grand opera "Dom Sébastien" with Beczala as the King of Portugal maintaining steady control at full vocal force. The final track is the duet "Toi! Vous! Oui, c'est moi . . . N'est-ce plus ma main" from Massenet's "Manon". In this Beczala as Des Grieux is partnered by Diana Damrau in the title role . . . Passionate and affecting the duo's voices blend delightfully and round off an engaging collection. Deutsche Grammophon once again deliver clarity and presence with an excellent balance secured between soloist and orchestra. Add to this well-paced conducting from Alain Altinoglu and crisp playing throughout. This compellingly desirable collection makes a real impact and again presents Beczala as a tenor whose reputation proceeds from strength to strength.

. . . there is no more charismatic French operatic hero today than the Polish tenor . . . [Beczala delivers] fine, dark-toned renditions of Don Carlos's Act I aria in the original Paris version of Verdi's opera and Don Jose's Flower Song, from Bizet's "Carmen". He impresses in his core roles from "Faust", "Werther" and "Manon".

. . . enjoyable . . . [Beczala] is one of the most elegant and musical [of today's tenors] . . . he is a meticulous singer, who eschews vulgarity or grandstanding: the score is always honoured . . . "O souverain!" from Massenet's "Le Cid" has a rare dignity . . . you don't often hear the "Flower Song" from Bizet's "Carmen" sung so impeccably, and the programme ends with Diana Damrau joining him for a rousing account of the duet from Massenet's "Manon".

Vocal acrobatics aplenty . . .

The overall package is extremely attractive, with the well-recorded Opéra National de Lyon orchestra under the highly poetic direction of Alain Altinoglu . . . [Beczala] isn't afraid to take high notes in a tasteful, well-calculated mixture of head and chest voice.

Throughout the disc Piotr Beczala is well supported by Alain Altinoglu and the Lyon orchestra. There is indeed much to enjoy on this disc . . .

Most immediately apparent is the great care taken over accuracy and elegance of diction and, in tandem, in mastering the stylistic refinements essential in such items as the Berlioz Faust's "Merci, doux crepuscule!" and the Gounod's "Salut! Demeure chaste et pure"-- phrases shaped and shaded with finely tapering dynamics, softly sustained high notes, lingering verbal inflections, and so on. This alone shines a flattering light on Beczala's versatility, diligence and sheer skilfulness as musician and artist . . . There's much lovely singing here. The voice, clearly in its mature prime, sheds a quality of nobility, attributable equally to Beczala's graceful, manly timbre and his unforced, from-within style of delivery . . . [the fine-drawn start to Fernand's "Ange si pur" and Don Carlos's "Fontainebleau! Forêt immense et solitaire"] make it clear that the characters in question are aristocrats in spirit . . . In creation and sustenance of gentle, meditative moods -- likewise Boieldieu's Georges Brown in quietly romantic outpouring -- these are distinguished recordings.

The Polish tenor is a favourite in leading houses worldwide, noted for his burnished tone and sensitive phrasing. This disc emphasises his strengths, starting with a cleanly limned "Pourquoi me réveiller" from "Werther" . . . I cannot deny his ability to spin a phrase, and to take some risks, such as floating the end of Don José's aria rather than bawling it, even now a relative rarity. The voice sounds large, with an exciting element of "squillo" . . . Alain Altinoglu conducts the Orchestre de l'Opéra national de Lyon with real flair, the sound is good, and this won't disappoint the tenor's fans.

. . . Beczala gives a satisfying account of both his considerable vocals gifts and his comprehension of the French vocal style. Beczala, who is justifiable ranked among today's leading tenors, possesses an attractive, sometimes thrilling voice characterized by its firm tone, bronze middle register, and bright, concentrated upper one. Essentially, this is a lyric voice, but one with sufficient heft and mettle to sound persuasively heroic when needed. His timbre is clean, crisp, perhaps a little white, and there is a certain cool elegance to his phrasing and interpretations. In this French collection, he calls to mind one of his great predecessors, Nicolai Gedda, in terms of tone, color, and diction . . . Alain Altinoglu, one of the best conductors of opera today, demonstrates his sovereignty in the French repertoire, and the Orchestre de L'Opéra de Lyon plays for him with transparency, elegance, clarity, and infinite color shadings. Altinoglu makes a sensitive collaborator with his singer, arching climaxes gracefully and always supporting -- never overshadowing -- the voice. He sometimes elects a fast-paced tempo, which contributes to the sense of vibrant energy . . . The sound on the DG disc is first-class: present, sensitive to both climax and subtlety . . . a striking collection -- a fascinating selection of French repertoire executed with taste, intelligence, sensitivity, and élan. It is a must for fans of Beczala and Altinoglu, as well as those who treasure French opera idiomatically performed.

. . . [Massenet / "Pourquoi me reveiller"]: [Beczala] stakes his claim with a mastery of "mood" . . . He sings the aria with tension, grace and considerable force, well supported by an experienced "Werther" conductor, Alain Altinoglu, who truly differentiates the phrases and the pacing . . . Beczala's des Grieux has appealing vulnerability . . . Beczala is most impressive and probably most himself in the spinto territory of Gounod, Bizet, Massenet and Verdi. The rich blend of light and dark in his timbre, and his emotional pointing, emerge best at a contemplative, romantic pace. Altinoglu and Beczala's treatment of the hit tenor arias from "Faust", "Roméo et Juliette" and "Carmen" lends their overfamiliar lines a refreshing directness, thanks to contrasting phrases and an incremental heightening of mood . . . what's perhaps most striking when Beczala attacks the hectic passages from Boieldieu's "Dame Blanche" or Berlioz's "Béatrice et Bénédict" is his ability to triumph, through sheer exuberance and charm . . . That's a gift that marks the real star.

. . . throughout the recital his French proves genuinely idiomatic. So does his appreciation of French style with its important focus on declamation of the text . . . This pays huge dividends. A wide variety of dynamics and some thrilling top notes bring him success as Massenet's doomed Romantic poet in "Werther" . . . [Massenet / "Le Cid"]: his vocalism is admirably focused and sculpted with infinite care. He fines down his voice to a perfect "pianissimo" in the extract from Berliot's "Damnation of Faust", in which the Lyon orchestra, conducted by Alain Altinoglu, makes something extraordinarily refined out of the postlude; indeed they are excellent throughout. Beczala demonstrates remarkable breath control . . . as well as delivering an impeccable Flower Song from "Carmen".

. . . [Beczala's] voice is both beautiful and supple . . . [the act V duet from "Manon" with Diana Damrau] is one of the nicest things on the album . . . He spins out a lovely stream of sound in every aria . . . Beczala presents himself as a finished artist worthy to star in the world's leading opera houses, and this pleasurable program of mostly familiar arias must be counted in the win column. Faust's "Salut! Demueure chaste et pure", smoothly sung all the way up to its high C, is enough to convince you that Beczala deserves his increasing fame. DG's recorded sound is excellent for both voice and orchestra . . . In all, a solid recommendation . . .

He sings with all the intensity we have come to expect, with golden tone and expert phrasing . . . In the aria from "La Damnation de Faust" he seduces us with some really beautiful pianissimo singing, where we sit up and whisper: this is the real thing . . . There are delicacies to come, making this recital well worth a listen. One can't really resist his deeply involved "Don Carlos", and Boieldieu's "Viens, gentile dame" is most lovingly sung . . . [in the reprise he sings] with a near-falsetto that is achingly beautiful. "Ange si pur" from "La Favorite" is also sensitively sung with plenty of nuance. The end of the "Flower Song" could serve as an instruction manual for young tenors . . . ["Manon"] needs a great singing-actor with the voice of an angel -- and here is one: Diana Damrau, who is glorious with those ethereal pianissimos. Beczala too is in good form and together they bring the recital to a thrilling end, supported with brio by the Orchestre de L'Opéra National de Lyon under the much sought after Alain Altinoglu.

. . . ["The French Collection" wird] sehr luxuriös wie idiomatisch gekonnt instrumental begleitet vom Orchestre de l'Opéra national de Lyon unter Alain Altinoglou . . . ein feiner Stilist . . . Nicht nur im schmelzenden "Manon"-Duett mit Diana Damrau macht er gezielt die Gefühlsschleusen auf und hat sich doch stets geschmacklich im Griff.

Insgesamt kann der Tenor mit traumhaft schönen Pianissimi wie zum Beispiel in "La Dame blanche" von Adrien Boieldieu begeistern, und wenn er mit seinem schlanken, edel timbrierten Organ sublime Gefühlsnuancen und große Emotionen gestaltet, geht dies niemals auf Kosten der Stimme. Ein kongenialer Begleiter ist ihm Alain Altinoglu, der das Orchestre de l'Opera National de Lyon mit feinem Sinn für Klangvaleurs und Eleganz leitet.

. . . eine interessante Mischung von Opernarien des französischen Repertoires . . . [das Orchestre de l'Opéra national de Lyon] spielt unter der Leitung von Alain Altinoglu ungemein geschmeidig, glasklar und offensichtlich auch historisch informiert . . . so schön gesungen . . .

Piotr Beczala hat sich mit der französischen Oper und den stilistischen Anforderungen des Repertoires eindringlich beschäftigt, das hört man in allen 12 Arien dieser CD "The French Connection" in jeder Phrase deutlich heraus. Das Album ist ganz offensichtlich ein Herzblut-Projekt, für das Beczala mit dem Orchestre de l'Opéra National de Lyon und Diana Damrau künstlerische Partner von ebenbürtigem Niveau gefunden hat. Alles ist feinsinnig und geschmackvoll gestaltet, mit Köpfchen und einer sensationellen Portion Eleganz -- Chapeau!

Die glasklare Diktion, die weichen, weit gespannten Linien, die anschmiegsame, nie enge Stimme -- all das lässt Beczalas französische Arien zu einem rechten Schmaus für Opernfreunde werden. Bei aller Opulenz gleitet der Tenor nicht ins Schwere, Schwülstige ab . . . Beczalas Stimme ist agil geblieben, kraftvoll und strahlt in der Höhe. Mit dem Album "The French Collection" zeigt er sich erneut als einer der Größten seines Fachs.

Zum Highlight seiner "French Collection" wird die Kirchenszene aus "Manon", wenn der Pole im packenden erotischen Nahkampf Diana Damrau unterliegt . . . [Beczala steht] auf dem Höhepunkt seines Könnens. Die Artikulation ist akkurat, prachtvoll strahlt sein Gounod-Faust, so wie er überhaupt als scheuer Liebender glänzt, mit süßen Seufzern bei höchst eleganter Phrasierung, als Berlioz' Bénédict, in Donizettis "La Favorite" oder auch als "Roméo".

. . . [er wirkt stets brillant und braucht] auch heute im französischen Repertoire wohl kaum Konkurrenz zu fürchten.

. . . der lyrische Tenor hat eine makellose Stimme, die hell aufblüht, leidenschaftlich fordert, ein weites Spektrum ausleuchtet . . . Hier singt er das große französische Repertoire, feurig, leidenschaftlich, unerhöhrt reich, erfüllt er sämtliche Wünsche.

. . . [dans ce] récital d'airs d'opéras francais, Piotr Beczala s'affirme comme un des meilleurs ténors de sa génération . . . ce qui distingue Beczala de tous les autres ténors, c'est cette maîtrise absolue de la voix mixte qui lui permet, comme le faisait autrefois un Nicolai Gedda, de chanter pianissimo les notes les plus élevées de ses airs. L'air de la fleur de "Carmen", l'invocation à la nature de "La Damnation" se voient ici transformés en moments d'anthologie. Et que dire de cet élégant Carlos, sinon qu'il nous fait rêver à de futures incarnations verdiennes. On a encore dans l'oreille son pianissimo final du "Celeste Aida", donné sous la Tour Eiffel l'été dernier . . . Deux autres valeurs ajoutées à ce disque: la Manon tant attendue de Diana Damrau pour le duo de Saint-Sulpice, une prise de rôle qu'on attend avec impatience . . . la direction élégante et inspirée d'Alain Altinoglu à la tête de l'Orchestre national de l'Opéra de Lyon. Pour une fois, un récital d'airs d'opéras francais est une véritable exploration du monde de l'opéra francais, bien plus qu'une simple promenade dans l'univers vocal d'un chanteur de renom. En tout cas, nous attendons Piotr Beczala de pied ferme pour de futures apparitions dans un répertoire où il a toute sa place.

Chaque air de cet enregistrement exceptionnel est un exemple de style, avec toute une palette de nuances, une voix riche de multiples couleurs, une technique qui lui permet d'enchaîner des passages où d'autres sont forcés de couper pour respirer. Même si tout l'ensemble se situe au plus haut niveau, certains moments sont encore plus particulièrement remarquables: la qualité naturelle du contre ut rayonnant de l'air de Faust, le si bémol pianissimo de "La fleur que tu m'avais jetée . . . ", les si bémol également de l'air de Roméo, et plus encore la reprise pianissimo de l'air de "La Dame blanche" qui pourtant n'est pas dans son emploi. On admire également globalement l'art des inflexions, la chaleur du timbre, l'intelligence de l'expression, la clarté et la puissance de la voix. Au-delà de la technique, chacun ressentira à l'écoute de cette magnifique lecon de chant francais une forme d'émotion à la mesure de sa propre sensibilité. Piotr Beczala prouve ici qu'il est bien, dans son emploi, l'un des plus grands ténors de sa génération. Enfin, il transparaît une nette complicité entre le ténor et le chef Alain Altinoglu sous la direction de qui l'orchestre national de Lyon déploie de fort belles sonorités. Plus que d'un simple accompagnement, il s'agit là d'une véritable fusion musicale.

. . . [enregistré sous la conduite de l'excellent Alain Altinoglu,] il démontre que Beczala a acquis, en l'espace de quelques saisons, une diction francaise et un phrasé dont le naturel laisse présager du meilleur pour les années à venir. Voilà qui tombe bien.

La musicalité est indiscutable, l'autorité de la voix naturelle, avec une émission et une articulation jamais forcées. L'ardeur enivrée de son Werther d'ouverture ("Toute mon âme est là ! Pourquoi me réveiller . . ."), puis le sens du legato de son Massenet (Le Cid: "Ô souverain, ô juge, ô père" . . .) s'accordent aussi à un souci du verbe, son articulation et sa couleur, qui s'avère passionnant à suivre. Le phrasé, le soin de l'accentuation révèlent un interprète fin et délicat, vrai amateur de notre langue qui ne sacrifie jamais le sentiment et la nuance intérieure sur l'autel de la puissance . . . [Donizetti]: Ange si pur de Fernand de "La Favorite", puis Seul sur la terre . . . Ange céleste de Dom Sébastien lui vont comme un gant: sans dramatisme intense ni contrastes nuancés, le chanteur enchante par sa ligne souveraine, quitte à sacrifier la précision de l'articulation . . . Le récital a le mérite de confirmer le tempérament indiscutable du ténor polonais Beczala dans les emplois aériens et presque de pur bel canto, ses Donizetti, Boieldieu et Gounod sont les meilleures réussites de ce récital lyonnais.