Opera Australia: Michael Fabiano in Concert [Melbourne]

In his first ever Melbourne appearance, globetrotting tenor superstar Michael Fabiano treated local opera lovers to a riveting recital, presenting a thoughtfully curated blend of passionate songs and arias. 

In the absence of a mainstage season in Melbourne this year, Opera Sydney Australia has thrown the city a crumb by having Fabiano pop down for a recital while in the country for his third fully staged production at Sydney Opera House later this month. 

The upside of this was the vey welcome opportunity for an up-close-and-personal recital in the warm intimacy of Elisabeth Murdoch Hall. Accompanied by associate artist Laurent Philippe on grand piano, Fabiano was heard at his pure, thrilling best. A highly sensitive and intuitive accompanist, Philippe’s performance was a pleasure to hear in its own right. 

From the first ringing notes of Puccini song “Inno a Diana,” Fabiano clearly demonstrated that he had arrived prepared for instant action, with not so much as a moment wasted on gradually warming up. 

In a first half consisting primarily of art songs, Fabiano more than capably exhibited his versatility with language. From three Italian songs from Puccini, to three in French from Duparc, and back to four in Italian from Tosti, Fabiano not only effortlessly slipped between languages but also readily coloured his tone and expression to perfectly suit each style. 

Whether dramatic or romantic, tender or noble, Fabiano’s underlying enjoyment in performing on stage shone through at all times. Standing in the curve of the bentside of the grand piano, he appeared relaxed and entirely at ease. From the opening phrase to the final notes of each piece, Fabiano remained completely immersed in the music, holding the audience ever in his thrall. 

Using his voice like the finest of musical instruments, a key feature of Fabiano’s vocal style is the masterfully smooth transition from expressive lyrical vocals to incredibly powerful head voice While moments of pianissimi were lovely, it was the fortissimo phrases that were most dramatically impactful, leaving a lasting memory of an extraordinarily talented, meticulously trained singer in peak form. 

The sole operatic aria presented in the first half was “E lucevan le stelle.” Cavadarossi is one of Fabiano’s signature roles, one he played last month in Barcelona and plays again next month in Vienna. Immediately assuming the character, Fabiano effectively captured the full emotion of the aria in its dramatic context at the top of act three in Tosca.

After an extended interval, Fabiano and Philippe returned for a series of dramatic arias, chosen from Fabiano’s stage career with an emphasis on rarely heard repertoire. 

Beginning with Federico’s lament “È la solita storia…” from Cilea’s L’Arlesiana, Fabiano went on to Massenet’s “Ne pouvant réprimer les élans de la foi…. Adieu donc, vains objets,” in which he illustrated the lustrous musicality of his voice in the opening a cappella sequence of the vocal. 

Fabiano made a particular showcase of Lensky’s act two aria “Kuda, kuda, vï udalilis…” from Eugene Onegin, expertly conveying the emotions of a man reflecting on love while awaiting possible death. 

In his only dialogue with the audience, Fabiano sweetly called for quiet to praise the city of Melbourne (where he had only arrived that day) and thank the audience. Announcing the first of two warmly received encores, he described Verdi’s “Forse la soglia attinse – Ma se m’è forza perderti” from Un Ballo in Maschera as one of his favourite roles to sing. 

Fabiano rightly acknowledged the final encore, perennial favourite “Nessun Dorma,” as needing no introduction. This soaring finale brought the full house to their feet in a rousing ovation of enthusiastic appreciation.

Michael Fabiano in Concert played at Elisabeth Murdoch Hall, Melbourne Recital Centre, 7.30pm Sunday 12 February 2023. 

Man in Chair has previously reviewed Michael Fabiano:

Lucia di Lammermoor, Opera Australia 2018

Rigoletto, Royal Opera, 2018

Faust, Opera Australia, 2015

I Lombardi alla prima crociata, The Opera Orchestra of New York, 2013

Michael Fabiano in Concert – Full program:

G. Puccini – 3 canzone: Inno a Diana, Terra e mare, Canto d’anime
G. Puccini – E lucevan le stelle… (Tosca)
H. Duparc – 3 chansons: La vie antérieure, Le manoir de Rosemonde, Phydilé
F. P. Tosti – 4 canzone: L’ultimatum canzone, Ideale, Per morire, L’alba sepàra dalla luce l’ombra


F. Cilea – Lamento di Federico (L’arlesiana) 

J. Massenet – Ne pouvant réprimer les élans de la foi…. Adieu donc, vains objets… (Hérodiade)
U. Giordano – Come un bel dì di maggio… (Andréa Chénier)
P. Tchaikovsky – Kuda, kuda, vï udalilis… (Yevgény Onégin)
G. Verdi – Ah! si, ben dite…. Tutti parea sorridere… (Il Corsaro) 


G. Verdi – Forse la soglia attinse – Ma se m’è forza perderti (Un Ballo in Maschera)

G. Puccini – Nessun Dorma (Turandot)

Categories: Opera, Reviews

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