In review: Simone Piazzola at Wigmore Hall

In review: Simone Piazzola at Wigmore Hall

Jenna Simeonov

The 201617 season of Rosenblatt Recitals continued last night with baritone Simone Piazzola and pianist Giuseppe Vaccaro at Wigmore Hall.

The pair paid homage to their Italian roots with a programme of Donizetti, Verdi, Mozart, and songs by Paolo Tosti. In fact, the Tosti songs that Piazzola and Vaccaro chose were first performed in London - and did you know: Tosti taught at the Royal Academy of Music, became a British citizen in 1906, and was knighted by King Edward VII in 1908?

Piazzola sang with an easy darkness in his sound, and Vaccaro was a beautiful collaborator; the pair found flexibility fueled by the language, and Piazzola’s shy smiles to the audience were heartfelt. He seemed to risk quite a lot in his soft singing, a bit of a shame considering the thrill in his full voice.

Vaccaro took on a truly collaborative role with Piazzola, and he also had two opportunities to take the spotlight as a solo pianist. He brought a bright, Italianate sound to Liszt’s Rigoletto: paraphrase de concert S434 and Hungarian Rhapsody in C sharp minor; Vaccaro’s playing was full of joy, and it confirmed our suspicions that Liszt is entirely insufferable. (His piano works remind us of that quote by Coco Chanel: “Before you leave the house, look in the mirror and take one thing off.”)

Piazzola packed his second half with arias from La favorita, Lucia di Lammermoor, Il trovatore, and Gounod’s Faust. He sang with audibly more confidence in the world of opera, with the dramatic refinement of many hours in rehearsal in roles like Enrico and the Conte di Luna; his sound stayed rich and masculine, and his top was totally thrilling. Along with the subtle beauty in his “Deh vieni alla finestra” from Don Giovanni, it was Verdi’s “Il balen del suo sorriso” from Il trovatore that showed off his most mature singing of the evening.

Thought Piazzola seemed somewhat shy onstage, he and Vaccaro gave a polished, flashy programme. His earnest singing resulted in two Verdi encores: Rodrigo’s “Son io, mio Carlo” from Don Carlo, and Germont’s “Di Provenza il mar” from La traviata.

Piazzola heads next to Florence, where he sings Marcello in La bohème at Opera di Firenze, before reprising Rodrigo in Don Carlo at Teatro alla Scala. For more, follow Piazzola on Facebook and Twitter.

The next Rosenblatt Recital is January 10, 2017 at Wigmore Hall, featuring soprano Maria Katzarava, tenor Stefano La Colla, and pianist Simon Lepper. For details and tickets, click here.

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