I wouldn’t have thought that a compilation of opera arias would involve me so deeply, force me to return to it. Only several years ago such albums deterred me with their fragmentariness, partiality, leaping from one style to another (and another), their showiness and gallantry. Some time ago this has started changing. Perhaps due to my growing knowledge of the opera repertoire, perhaps the irresistible desire to taste voice itself, its colour and temperature. Not to speak of the orchestra.
The character of Slavic Opera Arias by Piotr Beczała (and the Polish Radio Orchestra conducted by Łukasz Borowicz) is determined by the choice of repertoire itself. Slavic arias, Slavic opera – an idiom defining the geographical and cultural area, the language and tone, colour and style. And therefore: melodiousness, melancholy (or nostalgia), tenderness, love, sadness, heroism. The album doubtless benefits from the fact that the performers feel at home in this “Slavic” space. And no wonder.
Slavic Opera Arias. Piotr Beczała (tenor),
Łukasz Borowicz (conductor),
Polish Radio Orchestra, Orfeo 2010They begin with Vladimir’s aria from the second act of Borodin’s Prince Igor. Then, among other things, Lensky from Tchaikovsky’s Onegin twice, Hermann’s aria from the finale of The Queen of Spades, the Young Gypsy from Rachmaninoff’s Aleko, the Prince from Dvořák’s Rusalka, and a great, great deal of Polish music (Stefan’s “Cisza dokoła” from The Haunted Manor, Jontek’s “Szumią jodły…” from Halka, Franek’s “Płyną tratwy po Wiśle” from Moniuszko’s The Raftsman, Doman’s “Czy ty mnie kochasz?” from Nowowiejski’s The Legend of the Baltic or “Gdy ślub weźmiesz” from Żeleński’s Janek.).
It is precisely this wealth of Polish music that is worth emphasising because Beczała’s top position (or one of the top positions) in the opera world is no longer disputed so with this record he promotes his native, “Slavic” repertoire in the best possible way.
In fact, in each of the arias Beczała feels in his element. He is passionate (as Dvořák’s Prince), enamoured (Lensky), full of longing (Stefan), dreaming (Jontek), wild joy (Hermann). His voice is warm, fruity, intense, noble, colourful, pure. Simply beautiful.
And he has a perfect partner because the Polish Radio Orchestra plays these arias as if it never left the opera house. As if the stage was its element. And it is certainly so with Łukasz Borowicz. That Piotr Beczała records an album with this and not other conductor is meaningful in itself. The rest is in the music. Especially in the Prince’s aria from Rusalka. After this recording this music will never be the same again. Especially the finale, the orchestra’s chords like an earthquake. Like a desire for love.
And one more thing. Those who from time to time suggest decisions that would mean the end of the Polish Radio Orchestra should feel ashamed. And what should Piotr Beczała’s professors, who didn’t recognise his great talent, do? Tacet.