Roberto Alagna

I'm the only person I've ever met who has heard Roberto Alagna in really splendid form. Not what the "enthusiastic clueless" figured to be splendid form, when he was already famous. No: I'm talking about a performance that was splendid even for the demanding connoisseur, at a time when Alagna was still completely unknown. It was a Traviata at the Vienna Staatsoper in 1993; I went to hear some Germont or Violetta, I don't remember. The real sensation of the evening, however, was Roberto WHO?? as Alfredo. The ease with which he produced a bright, beautiful voice with no signs of strain or effort was remarkable indeed; he was the best Alfredo I had heard until then, and he still is the best Alfredo I've ever heard.

That was, in a nutshell, Alagna's career; when he came back to Vienna just one or two years later, he was already a failure (in a role as "strenuous" as Nemorino!!), and a failure is what he has been ever since (I'm writing in 2020, and he's still singing, or croaking). The one and only exception where he did remind me of that early, glorious Traviata, is his CD of Luis Mariano songs, which is charming and very well-done. Everything, absolutely everything else: nightmares!
Roberto Alagna singsIl trovatore: Di quella pira
In RA format

Roberto Alagna singsPolyeucte: Source délicieuse
In RA format

Roberto Alagna singsTurandot: Nessun dorma
In RA format

Roberto Alagna sings Aida: Celeste Aida
plus the first few bars of the next scene, Alagna being already substituted by Antonello Palombi, with Ildikó Komlosi
This was a big, big operatic scandal. Alagna tried to sing Radames in a Scala premiere in December 2006. He was, as can be heard in the file above, justly booed before the performance had really started, i.e. after Celeste Aida – and haughtily walked off-stage. What he certainly didn't expect was that the Scala management would not accept such a respectless behavior and would not let him return to the stage – they immediately pushed cover tenor Antonello Palombi (in Jeans!) on stage, and Palombi sang through the end of the performance. The audience was outraged, Alagna fumed, and swore never to return to La Scala. Better for Milano...

On this page, there were at the time a lot of sardonic replies to lots of imbecile postings in operatic internet forums; forums that have since ceased to exist, so all that argument is now outdated. I'm just keeping the few still relevant parts:
Bravo the loggionisti for good taste and knowledge of the voice required to sing Radames.

I got the following comments from Roger Yaèche on the disaster:
Alagna s'est fait "ramassé" à la Scala, je ne suis pas étonné. Car on ne peut pas tromper le public milanais comme on trompe le public français qui n'y connait rien en chant. Alagna ne soutient pas sa voix, la place en arrière dans le palais, elle tremble et n'a aucune ampleur. Et pourtant quelle prétention de la part de cet homme ! Thanks.

Alagna as a baritone
I wish to thank Jacques Franken for the recording (Turandot).

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