Album Review and Recommendation: ARIAS (Jonathan Tetelman)

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by Tony Frankel on August 26, 2022

in CD-DVD,Music


When I played the debut album Arias by Chilean-American tenor Jonathan Tetelman, my partner said during the first track, “Is that Pavarotti?” Comparisons can fairly be made when you hear this powerful, colorful, emotional artist taking on an incredible range of styles from the French and Italian repertoire. Having signed an exclusive agreement with Deutsche Grammophon last autumn, his amazing album is available September 2, 2022. And his power isn’t just relegated to the sonic high C’s, but pianissimo passages as well. Perfectly engineered and recorded at the Alfredo Kraus Auditorium in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, Tetelman is supported by the stunningly astute conductor Karel Mark Chichon and the Orquesta Filarmónica de Gran Canaria.

Ponchielli, Amilcare
1. Cielo e mar [La Gioconda, Act II]

Giordano, Umberto
2. Amor ti vieta [Fedora, Act II]

Verdi, Giuseppe
3. Non maledirmi, o prode [I due Foscari, Act II]

Flotow, Friedrich von
4. M’apparì tutt’amor [Martha, Act III]

Bizet, Georges
5. La fleur que tu m’avais jetée [Carmen, Act II]

Cilea, Francesco
6. La dolcissima effigie [Adriana Lecouvreur, Act I]

Verdi, Giuseppe
7. La vita è inferno [La Forza del Destino, Act III]
8. O tu che in segno aagli angeli [La Forza del Destino, Act III]

Giordano, Umberto
9. Come un bel dì di Maggio [Andrea Chénier, Act IV]

Zandonai, Riccardo
10. Paolo datemi pace [Francesca da Rimini, Act III]
11. Perché volete voi ch’io rinnovi [Francesca da Rimini, Act III]

Massenet, Jules
12. Toute mon âme est là – Pourquoi me réveiller [Werther, Act III]

Mascagni, Pietro
13. Mamma, quel vino è generoso (Addio alla madre) [Cavalleria rusticana, Scene 11]

Puccini, Giacomo
14. Addio fiorito asil [Madama Butterfly, Act III]

Verdi, Giuseppe
15. Ah! sì, ben mio, coll’essere [Il Trovatore, Act III]
16. Di quella pira [Il Trovatore, Act III]

Here is info from the press release: “Singing lets me become who I am,” says Tetelman. Both a means of expression and a source of strength, it has always been part of his life. As a pupil at the American Boychoir School in Princeton, he discovered the joy of performing classical music both at home and on tour across the US and further afield. This later led him to the Manhattan School of Music, from which he graduated – as a baritone – at the age of 22. There followed a period of self-discovery. Unable to see a future for himself as a singer, and lacking direction and perspective, Tetelman changed tack and spent three years working as a DJ on the New York club scene. “I felt completely lost,” he recalls. “It was like a piece of me was missing.” As soon as he realised that the missing piece was classical music, he immersed himself in his studies again and, with immense discipline, transformed himself into a tenor. “Since then,” he says, “I’ve known that if I want to achieve something, I can do it, but I need a good reason.”

His hard work and resilience paid off. With his tenor voice of exceptional warmth and resonance – a “lyric one, with lots of power”, as he himself says, a “Romantic voice in the classic sense” – he is now in demand all over the world and stands on the threshold of a major career. Not only a gifted singer whose instrument has undergone an impressive development, Tetelman is also a passionate stage artist who throws himself into every role he plays. “I love working through the psychological aspects of the characters,” he explains, adding that he finds it fascinating to explore each role and the ways in which it develops as the plot unfolds.

Now 33, Tetelman sees Arias as “validation of all the hard work, the proverbial blood, sweat and tears that I’ve invested in my singing, my art and my voice”. Focusing on Italian and French repertoire of a variety of periods and genres, the album is designed to showcase the different colors of his voice. “We chose pieces that make an emotional impact for their gentleness and delicacy on the one hand, and for their heroic and dramatic qualities on the other,” notes the singer.

One aria featured here to which he has a particular attachment is “Addio fiorito asil” from Puccini’s Madama Butterfly. “It’s the first piece that I ever sang as a tenor and in which I felt for the first time vocally at home,” explains Tetelman. “For me there is no greater music than Puccini’s, it has a special place in my heart.” As well as excerpts from three operas by Verdi, Arias also includes music by Bizet, Cilea, Giordano, Mascagni and Massenet. Another major milestone in Tetelman’s career, meanwhile, is reflected in the extracts from Zandonai’s Francesca da Rimini: it was as Paolo that he had his first great success at the Deutsche Oper in Berlin.

Both a starting point and a destination, Arias is an impressive recording which captures the expressive power and radiant tones of Jonathan Tetelman’s voice at this early stage in his career. Listeners will no doubt be eagerly anticipating what comes next, as is the singer himself: “I’m really looking forward to the process that’s just started and feel I’m at the beginning of a really exciting journey.”

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