Jonathan Tetelman (tenor)

Capella Cracoviensis, Orquesta Filarmónica de Gran Canaria/Karel Mark Chichon
rec. 2021, Sala Sinfónica del Auditorio Alfredo Kraus, Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, Spain

The Chilean-American tenor Jonathan Tetelman’s debut album, ‘Arias’ was released in August 2022 and came late to my attention. Tetelman has been gaining attention on the international opera stage with his strong and compelling performances; in 2018 following his performances at the Tanglewood Festival as Rodolfo (La bohème) and the Berkshire Opera Festival as the Duke (Rigoletto), the New York Times proclaimed ‘The guy’s a total star’. 

On this album, ten composers are represented by sixteen arias, including a substantial duet, from thirteen operas spanning some seventy years. They are predominantly Italian, with the exception of the French arias from Werther and Carmen. The programme consists of mainly popular repertory, including the celebrated ‘M’appari tutt’amor’ from Flotow’s Martha, an opera only occasionally revived, but the aria is a popular choice for tenor recital collections. The exceptions are a pair of rarities from Francesca da Rimini by Zandonai and a seldom heard aria from Verdi’s I due Foscari

The five arias from three Verdi operas – I due Foscari, La forza del destino and Il trovatore -are decidedly Romantic and contrast starkly with those in the verismo style, whose libretti contain realistic, everyday subjects, notably Giordano’s Andrea Chénier (1896), Cilea’s Adriana Lecouvreur and Mascagni’s Cavalleria rusticana (1890); Bizet’s Carmen and Puccini’s Madama Butterfly, too, are sometimes regarded as verismo.

With his matinée idol looks, it is not surprising that Tetelman is compared to renowned German tenor Jonas Kaufmann. Both these lyric tenors have highly attractive and secure voices, but Tetelman has a rather more Italianate quality with a fast vibrato and, he having been a baritone in his student days,  his voice easily reaches as deep as Kaufmann can manage. On the other hand, Tetelman isn’t bestowed with the level of tonal warmth for which Kaufmann’s distinctive voice is so feted. 

This is an album with many highlights. I especially relish the performance of Don José’s much-loved ‘Flower Song’ from Carmen. Tetelman is in his element here, as José declares his love for Carmen with the utmost sincerity, conveying a tenderness that builds to ardour. This is a fine example of Tetelman singing in his low register with relative ease, darkening his tone yet also soaring gloriously up to his high notes.    

The two arias that he has chosen from Act Two of Il trovatore are marvellously sung. In the challenging Ah! sì, ben mio; coll’essere Manrico assures Leonora of his love, affirming they will be united in heaven if he dies in battle. Tetelman here displays his splendid vocal control and impressive lyricism. In the cabaletta Di quella pira l’orrendo foco Manrico heroically draws his sword and declares his intent to rescue his mother, the gypsy Azucena. Tetelman really makes me sit up here, mustering all the passion and drama he can, including an heroic high C in this, one of the great showpiece tenor arias.

Tetelman is joined in several arias by additional soloists, namely sopranos Magdalena Łukawska (track 13) and Vida Miknevičiūtė (tracks 10, 11, 15, 16), and tenor José Simerilla Romero (tracks 15, 16). Their contributions are mainly negligible and in truth Tetelman’s only substantial duet is with the bright toned Miknevičiūtė in Zandonai’s Francesca da Rimini

I’ve not heard too many recordings played by the Orquesta Filarmónica de Gran Canaria but under Karel Mark Chichon the results are commendable. Nevertheless, for my taste Tetelman might have been placed slightly closer in the mix. Worthy of note are number of solos played splendidly by the section principals. The chamber choir Capella Cracoviensis appears in only two of the arias but makes a worthy contribution. The booklet contains both the Italian and French sung texts but disappointingly no English translations are given. Dorothea Walchshäusl is the author of the booklet essay titled A Musical Graduation which tends to focus on Tetelman rather than background and context for the arias.

I greatly enjoy this debut album from first to last note. Tetelman will without doubt win many new admirers with this outstanding release. 

Michael Cookson

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Presto Music

Amilcare Ponchielli (1834-1886) 
La Gioconda
1. ‘Cielo e mar!’ (Act 2)
Umberto Giordano (1867-1948)
2. ‘Amor ti vieta di non amar’ (Act 2)
Giuseppe Verdi (1813-1901)
I due Foscari
3. ‘Non maledirmi, o prode’ (Act 2)
Friedrich von Flotow (1812-1883)
4. ‘M’apparì tutt’amor’ (Act 3)
Georges Bizet (1838-1875)
5. ‘La fleur que tu m’avais jetée’ (Act 2)
Francesco Cilea (1866-1950)
Adriana Lecouvreur
6. ‘La dolcissima effigie sorridente’ (Act 1)
Giuseppe Verdi
La forza del destino
7. ‘La vita è inferno all’infelice’ (Act 3)
8. ‘O tu che in seno agli angeli’ (Act 3)
Umberto Giordano
Andrea Chenier
9. ‘Come un bel dì di maggio’ (Act 4)
Riccardo Zandonai (1883-1944)
Francesca da Rimini
10. ‘Paolo, datemi pace!’ (Act 3)
11. ‘Perché volete voi ch’io rinnovi’ (Act 3)
Jules Massenet (1842-1912)
12. ‘Toute mon âme est là!’ ‘Pourquoi me réveiller’ (Act 3)
Pietro Mascagni (1863-1945)
Cavalleria rusticana 
13. ‘Mamma, quel vino è generoso’
Giacomo Puccini (1858-1924)
Madama Butterfly 
14. ‘Addio, fiorito asil’ (Flower Song) (Act 2)
Giuseppe Verdi
Il trovatore
15. ‘Ah! Sì, ben mio, coll’essere’ (Act 3)
16. ‘Di quella pira l’orrendo foco’ (Act 3)

Other Performers
Magdalena Łukawska (soprano) – track 13
Vida Miknevičiūtė (soprano) – tracks 10, 11, 15, 16
José Simerilla Romero (tenor) – tracks 15, 16