In one of the finest calling-card débuts we have heard in quite some time – the DELOS recording ARIAS OF LOVE & SORROW – Gevorg Hakobyan brings keen interpretive intelligence and a gift for coloring his sound to suit the snarling utterances of Iago’s Credo, the self-questioning of Gerard in Nemico della patria, the seething anger of Michele’s Nulla! Silenzio!, the heartbreak of Renato’s Eri tu, and the noble cantilena of Nabucco’s prayer, the latter sung with seamless legato.
Hakobyan’s is a true dramatic voice: sizeable, rock solid in the middle and low registers, perfectly even in sound in the tricky passaggio that often creates trouble for some baritones, and fearless both with the top F sharps and G’s that abound in the Verdi and Puccini arias included in the album. He also boasts a fine low A in Eri tu and an equally assured low G in Michele’s aria from Il Tabarro.
The not all familiar selections in the Armenian and Russian languages are fascinating, and Hakobyan delivers them with linguistic accuracy and idiomatic flair. The aria from Rachmaninoff’s Aleko is boldly sung by Hakobyan with haunting intensity and pathos, as is the well-known aria from Borodin’s Prince Igor. The arias from Rimsky Korsakov’s The Tsar’s Bride and Tchaikovsky’s The Queen of Spades leave one wanting to savor more of this neglected repertoire as sung by Habokyan.
Armenian opera is uncharted territory for many of us. It was most rewarding to discover the musical richness and Eastern-inflected work of Levon Khodja-Eynatyan’ Arshak II and both of Armen Tigranian’s operas Anoush and David Bek, all sung with a heroic sweep by Gevorg Hakobyan.
John Fisher and Constantine Orbelian, conduct both supporting the soloist and vividly enhancing the accompaniment provided by the excellent Kaunas City Symphony Orchestra,
The Delos recording is impeccably produced and engineered by Vilius Keras and Aleksandra Kerienė, insightfully annotated by David Brin, and beautifully designed by Lonnie Kunkel.
In the imperfect world of Opera Gevorg Hakobyan, a major artist perfectly equipped both vocally and musically – deserves to be stepping right now into the leading baritone repertoire in the major opera houses.
Rafael de Acha © 2023