Leoncavallo: I Pagliacci - Vickers, Carlyle, MacNeil, Nait; Bartoletti. Buenos Aires, 1969
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It is a testament to Jon Vickers versatility as an artist that he would maintain his Italian repertory despite being one of the foremost heldentenors of his day. And although his Canio may not be the finest representation of Italianate style, it still shows all the hallmarks of what made this artist great. Vicker's gruff (some could say peculiar) voice did not lend him the "leading man" quality of Franco Corelli or Mario del Monaco, however it brought to each role that he did an everyman quality that forced the audience to connect in a way that the standard matinee idol tenor could not. His Canio is tortured and violent as one might expect, but we also see a side that is frail and deeply insecure making the famous aria one of the most moving that I have ever heard. He is joined by Cornell MacNeil as Tonio. Again, MacNeil's Italian was far from idiomatic, but the astonishing size and beauty of his voice more than make up for it. If he didn't have such a glorious high A natural one could easily mistake this singer for a bass given the darker hue of his voice. Joan Carlyle may not be as up to the task as her colleagues, but Nedda is a difficult role to pull off well and she sings admirably. The sound is very good.