Romantic Nights - The Ultimate Love Songs Collection.
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|1. Palazzo dell'Amore: La Luna- Cupid and Psyche Duet - Eberhard Schoener|
|2. TOSCA: Dammi i colori...Recondita armonia - New Philharmonic Orchestra|
|3. The Magic Flute: Dies Bildnis ist bezaubernd schon - Artur Rother|
|4. Martha: M'appari tutt'amor - Enrico Caruso|
|5. Il coraggio di ti amo (Testa-Renis)|
|6. Non ti scordar di me (de Curtis-Furno)|
|7. La Traviata: Lunge da lei...De miei bollenti spirti|
|8. Premiere carresse (deCresenzo-Marinier) - Enrico Caruso|
|9. I Love Thee [Ich Liebe Dich] (Grieg)|
|10. L'elsisr d'amore: Una furtiva lagrima|
|11. The Toast Of New Orleans: Be My Love|
|12. Aida: Se quel guerrier io fossi...Celeste Aida|
|13. Il Trvatore: Ah, si, ben mio|
|14. Giuditta: Freunde, das Leben ist lebenswert|
|15. Carmen: Le fleur que tu m'avais jetee (Flower Song)|
|16. La Favorita: Spirto gentil|
|17. La Boheme: Che gelida manina|
|18. TOSCA: E lucevan le stelle|
|19. Das Land des Lachelns: Dein ist mein ganzes Herz|
|20. Turandot: Nessun dorma|
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I'm not sure how well the first suggested function succeeds; certainly that would depend on the subjective nature of the listener(s). The second function can be assessed with a bit more objectivity, however, given some fairly wide agreement about the artistic value of the music and its performers.
The music consists of 20 pieces, mostly arias from 19th and 20th century European operas and operettas, but including also a handful of non-operatic songs (tracks 5, 6, 8, 9, 11). The pieces are nearly all very well known favorites: there is little attempt to introduce listeners to new music, but rather simply to feed their existing appetites. The selection of music seems quite appropriate and well-advised, though surely individual listeners might prefer alternatives to some of the items presented.
Quality, both of performance and of recording, seems to have been a high priority in the selection of items. Top-notch artists in some of their best performances, recorded about as well as possible by existing technologies, predominate here.
As to the performers, 11 tenors from Caruso to Bocelli are included, most represented by two selections. Bocelli, Araiza, and Heppner have only one selection, however, and Domingo gets three. The recordings, all but 3 of which are dated, range from 1917 to 1996, and accordingly employ recording techniques from the direct acoustic ones of Caruso to the digital (DDD) ones of Bocelli and others. Only four pieces are recorded digitally (tracks 1, 16, 19, and 20, featuring Bocelli, Domingo, Araiza, and Heppner), the others being remastered from analog sources. Arranged chronologically by birthdates, the tenors are Enrico Caruso (Italy, 1873), Richard Tucker (US, 1903), Jan Peerce (US, 1904), Jussi Björling (Sweden, 1911), Mario Lanza (US, 1921), Fritz Wunderlich (Germany, 1930), Luciano Pavarotti (Italy, 1935), Plácido Domingo (Spain, 1941), Francisco Araiza (Mexico, 1950), Ben Heppner (Canada, 1956), and Andrea Bocelli (Italy, 1958).
Besides the tenors, there are a some additional voices: soprano Helen Schneider with Bocelli (#1) and bass Paul Plishka with Domingo (#2), plus several choruses. Various orchestras provide accompaniment for the pieces.
Whether presenting romantic love almost exclusively from a male viewpoint is a good strategy for this CD is for me an imponderable. Certainly there are many well known romantic arias and songs for female voices which might have been included. Will the disk help you to win or retain the favor of your current object of fancy? Who knows? Unless that person hates opera or classical music in general, it probably couldn't hurt.
As a brief historical cross-section of prominent tenors singing romantic arias and songs, the CD seems pretty good. The recordings, though of varying technologies, all sound very good, with no seriously distracting flaws. The singers are all in very good voice, projecting their emotions convincingly and artistically. Probably the only real controversy regarding the disk would lie in the choice of singers and music. Of the former, many tenors are conspicuous by their absence: Gigli, McCormack, Corelli, Schipa, Kraus, Alagna, Lauri-Volpi, Tagliavini, Schmidt, Carreras, Gedda, Tauber, di Stefano, Schreier, Bergonzi, Hadley, and Flórez, just to mention a random few. No light lyric (lirico-leggiero) tenors (such as Flórez) nor heroic (Heldentenor) voices (such as Melchior) appear; instead, lyric, spinto, and dramatic voices carry the burden of expressing romantic love.
As to the choice of arias/songs, though many may regret the absence of a particular favorite, the pieces have nearly all been popular favorites for many years and thus of presumably substantial merit. The most surprising inclusion for me is the Bocelli aria from Schoener's short contemporary opera "Palazzo d'amore." Though the piece seems worthy enough, it hasn't yet reached the state of venerability which most of the other pieces enjoy. The same might be said of Domingo's presentation of "Il coraggio di dire ti amo," recorded in 1973. "Première Caressse" is likely one of Caruso's lesser known offerings, as well. Some may object to the inclusion of Lanza's "Be My Love" from the movie "Toast of New Orleans" as being too much in the popular/commercial genre. The singer himself (along with Bocelli) might likewise seem somewhat out of place among primarily operatic voices. Nevertheless, there are surely many in the potential audience for this disk who regard Lanza or Bocelli as among the best tenors who have ever lived.
All in all, then, this seems a very handy collection of romantic tenor arias and songs from among the best recordings of the past century. If it doesn't juice up your love life, it may yet provide a useful reference and reminder of some of the best tenor singing from the past to the present. I bought it for the latter purpose, and am quite pleased with it, as I think many other appreciators of the genre will be. Try it! You'll probably like it!
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