Brave, passionate and very talented. This was London’s first impression of the stratospheric tenor Javier Camarena, in one of the delicious Rosenblatt recitals in the Wigmore Hall. Those who knew about him expected him to be the big star that shone at the Met in La Cenerentola, and is currently delighting Zurich with Die Entführung -and he didn’t deceive us. Each piece was received with a long round of applause, many bravos and standing ovations, that led to three grateful encores.
Camarena showed his mastering of Mozart’s coloratura to open the concert, but it was when he first hit the top C in Bellini’s È serbato when we all opened wide ears, eyes and mouth. The belcanto agility and high tessitura is perfect for him, and he delighted us with his acclaimed Ramiro and Gounod’s Romeo. All this was but the preparation for the perfect, mind-blowing, staccato top Cs in Donizetti’s Pour mon âme. I don’t think I’ll hear something like that again in my lifetime. His voice is brassy and warm at the top, which he reaches with an insulting easiness and without fear, just as a slackliner; and a big voice, much bigger than we’re used to for this repertoire.
(Photo source: ® Jesús Cornejo)
The second part was a mix of Italian and Spanish songs, with a small concession for a Zarzuela romanza -No puede ser- that was received with the same passion as he posed singing it. Camarena lavishes expression in this repertoire, but his voice doesn’t shine the same in the intimacy of more central, quieter pieces. His fatigue after the flight -which forced him to refresh his throat repeatedly during the recital- was probably more evident in these songs, but this didn’t prevent us to enjoy their beauty.
The accompaniment by Enrico Cacciari was superb: his attention to the singer, the way he travelled with him through expression, dynamics and attacks, deserves a big hats-off -especially taking into account that he just had a few days to prepare this recital, stepping in last minute. His agile fingers delivered brilliantly all the styles that they faced. Deep admiration for him too.
Let’s hope that the Royal Opera House will count with Javier Camarena soon, and that Enrico Cacciani will venture to offer us more recitals. We can’t have enough of the magic they created last night.