Vien, Leonora! A’piedi tuoi
serto e soglio il cor, il cor ti dona.
Ah, se amare il Re tu puoi.
mai del dono,
no, mai del don si pentirà!
che per soglio, pel core,
e per corona
gli riman la tua beltà!
Ah. mia Leonora! deh! vieni a me.
De’ nemici tuoi lo sdegno
di sfidar saprò per te;
se ti cessi e l’alma e il regno,
io per gli altri ancor son Re!
De’miei dì compagna io voglio farti,
o bella, innanzi al ciel,
al mio fianco unita in soglio.
nell’avel, si, nell’avel!
si. mio ben, si, mio ben! Ah! ¡Ah!
Vocal ancestor of, say a Carlo V in „Ernani“, the part of Alfonso requires most of all total vocal control and at the same time vocal freedom for the endless legato-lines. Whenever the name of Renato Bruson is being dropped it will inevitably be linked to the term: „belcanto“. „The King of Belcanto“ was praised by critics and public alike for his smooth legato, his vocal line and diligent phrasing. We will pair the 47year old Bruson in Alfonso´s first aria with Carlo Tagliabue, 10 years his senior at the time of the recording (1955).
Bruson also sings the recitative, which is mostly flat. The low notes (never his joy and pride) are palid and scratchy („l´avello“), the higher ones show definite hints of a wobble („l´inique trAAme“)
Bruson is not really building up anything – he starts right away in more or less full voice. He tries hard to bind the first two phrases „Vien, Leonora! A’ piedi tuoi / serto e soglio il cor, il cor ti dona“, but the voice wobbles away – no clean phrasing here. Also „sOOglia“ and „il re tu vUOOOOI“ are not clean and firm notes. Listen how he opens up at4:50 „il tUUUOOOO bel cor“. The cabaletta sounds forced and unimaginative, where Tagliabue despite of having to keep control still does enunciate and keep the phrasing clean and neat with accenti here and there.
„Porgere la voce“, „singing on the breath“ are terms usually associated with the belcanto repertory – is Bruson doing that? Not in my opinion. He sings with too much pressure, opening way too much on the high notes. He sounds forced, throaty and wobbly. Not singing on the breath with little vocal focus. Absolutely monotonous and uninspired in comparison to what a Carlo Tagliabue can do with this piece:
Now, Tagliabue was in no way a belcanto specialist or stylist in terms of a Mario Ancona for example, nor was he the most „sensitive“ singer, neither was he a „star“ at his time. But everything is relative…… and compared to Bruson I find Tagliabue stylish and the much more expert and finished singer.
He starts out with a tender „Vien Leonora, a piedi tuoi“ sung in a beautiful and well sustained mezza voce. „serto e sOOglio il cor, il cOOOr ti dona“ has a beautiful slender, but well focussed sOOglia and well done ornament on cOOOr. Similarly slender, but well collected are all his high notes and those in the passaggio area, where Bruson is rough, broad and out of focus. He has lots of little accents, where Bruson just opens up and tramples down the music: for example „se amare il re tu puOOOOi“ or the second „si pentirà“ held back beautifully or the tender „gli riman la tua beltà“. Yet, he annoyingly aspirates the „gli riman la tua beltahahahade“. Yet, with Tagliabue on is never bored. He offers a real legato. He is shaping a piece, he is building up a climax and he always cares for diction and phrasing, as the final cabaletta shows, too, ended with a ringing „al ciel“ – not too broad, not tight, not forced just beautifully focused and on the breath.