V2561. ANDRÉ MALLABRERA: Arias from Armide (Lully), Orfeo (Rossi), Cantate Domino (Mondonville), Les boréades (Rameau), La dame blanche (Boieldieu), Le domino noir & La muette de Portici (both Auber), Les dragons de Villars (Maillart), Si j’étais roi (Adam), Ivan IV & Les pêcheurs de perles (both Bizet), Mireille (Gounod), Griséldis (Massenet), Maître Pathelin (Bazin), Une education manquée (Chabrier), Le barbier de Séville, Le siège de Corinthe, Le comte Ory (all Rossini), Boccaccio (Suppé), Friederike & Die Lustige Witwe (both Lehar); Ay ay ay (Freire). (France) Malibran AMR 156. [AMR titles are issued without rear tray-cards]
“A new Malibran release presents a collection of studio and (it appears) radio recordings by the French tenor André Mallabrera (1934–2017). A brief biography of the singer (in French only) by Roland Mancini notes that Mallabrera, the son of a tenor, was born in Oran. After studies in Algeria, Mallabrera made his debut, at the age of 24, with the Paris Opéra-Comique, performing the role of Almaviva in Rossini’s THE BARBER OF SEVILLE. Mallabrera would remain a leading tenor with the Opéra-Comique until that historic company closed in 1972. Mallabrera’s repertoire spanned Baroque to contemporary 20th-century works. Mallabrera made several French recordings of light opera and operetta, and may also be heard in comprimario roles in Nicolai Gedda’s EMI recordings of Offenbach’s LES CONTES D’HOFFMANN and Massenet’s WERTHER. I first became familiar with Mallabrera as a principal tenor via a lovely 1960 recording by Universal Classics France of Adolphe Adam’s SI J’ÉTAIS ROI.
Those recordings, as well as this Malibran recital, document the work of an artist of a very high order. There is no doubt that Mallabrera’s voice was very light in timbre that probably functioned best when heard in smaller venues. But as we are dealing with recordings made before a microphone, the heft of Mallabrera’s voice is at most of secondary concern. What we hear on these recordings is a voice of remarkable beauty and purity, always employed with the utmost technical mastery, and in a highly musical fashion. As with any great French lyric or leggero (légère) tenor, Mallabrera’s diction is crystal-clear, his legato impeccable, and his range of dynamics and colors is impressive. He is able to sing well above the staff with ease, whether emphasizing the chest or head registers, or even some masterful combination of the two. As with contemporaries like Gedda and Alain Vanzo, Mallabrera is able to create a truly magical atmosphere when he sings such excerpts as Nadir’s Romance from Bizet’s THE PEARL FISHERS, or Georges Brown’s ‘Viens, gentille dame’ from Boïeldieu’s LA DAME BLANCHE, and ‘Anges du Paradis’ from Gounod’s MIREILLE. Mallabrera is also extremely at home in demanding florid passages, making him a compelling interpreter of Rossini’s bravura tenor roles.
The sound on the recordings on the new Malibran release, derived from various sources, ranges from excellent to, at worst, more than adequate. As a whole, the excerpts admirably document Mallabrera’s vocal and musical gifts, and his affinity for a wide range of repertoire….The CD booklet includes only track listings, and the Mancini bio. I purchased my copy from norpete.com. I feel certain that those who love the grand tradition of French lyric tenor singing will enjoy this new release. And if you like the Malibran André Mallabrera collection, you can proceed with confidence to the tenor’s SI J’ÉTAIS ROI, and other delights. Highly recommended, to the usual suspects!”
- Ken Meltzer, FANFARE