Kevin Sutton writes of Bocelli:
>Taste? Intelligence? Hardly. He pushes his voice horribly and has
>some of the worst technique in the business. I am a professional
>singer, so I can say that with some authority. He's ok as a pop
>singer, but he's dreadful in the verismo repertoire, which is what he
>is always trying to sing. He simply hasn't the voice size or the
>technique to handle it. Sorry.
"Worst technique in the business"? Of course we are dealing here, as
Mr Sutton rightly says, with matters of opinion; but quite obviously
anybody whose training is good enough to see him through the tenor role
in "La Boheme" has to have a pretty well grounded technique, no matter
how far that might be aided by modern microphony. Is that perhaps what
Mr Sutton objects too?
We should in any case be wary of using technical rationalisations to
support judgements of "taste." Rodolfo is the lightest lead tenor in
Puccini's output (excepting the small role of Rinuccio in "Gianni
Schicchi") and has been successfully sung in the past by much more
delicate voices than this. Bocelli's "intelligence" helps him build
arias and duets, characterfully and emotionally, without recourse to the
sort of visceral bellowing that passes for good singing far too often
these days. "Can Belto" is a largely post-war phenomenon, and if we go
back to the 1930's recordings of fine singers such as Emilio Vendrell
and Tino Folgar we'll hear voices very similarly weighted to Bocelli's
deployed with equal skill in this very repertoire - which should not be
confused with "verismo", that much coarser manifestation of Italian
So it is at least defensible to prefer the old-style crooners to the
heroic blusterers who so often take this role to the emotional cleaners.
John Steane in "Gramophone" was certainly agreeably surprised by the
results, however manufactured, and so was I. I knew nothing about Mr
Bocelli's pop-idol credentials beforehand, which may have been a help
rather than a hindrance to objectivity. We are perhaps a little over-eager
to give pop dogs a bad name.
Like Mr Sutton, I've been working with singers professionally as a
director and performer for many years, and (quite entre nous) I only
wish my most recent Rodolfo had been able to sing "Your tiny hand is
frozen" with half so much elan as Bocelli manages - and he's in tune,
too! Unlike Mr Sutton, that's as far as my personal knowledge of the
blind tenor's work goes, so I couldn't defend his "verismo" adventures.
"THE ZARZUELA COMPANION" (Scarecrow Press)
Christopher Webber, Foreword by Placido Domingo