Alain Vanzo: Airs français

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Vanzo (1928-2002) came from a humble Monaco background but is remembered as an aristocrat of the French lyric tenor repertoire, possessed of charm and taste. In an era blessed with tenorissimos, he developed slowly, not tackling Don José (Carmen) till he was 45 – a measure of how seriously he took his métier.

His career peaked in the 1970s but he was still hugely impressive in the 1980s, when I heard his Werther: details of his Act Four death scene are still etched on my memory.

He was an exquisite interpreter of the tenor roles of Manon, Mignon, Mireille and Roméo et Juliette, as these surprisingly clean recordings from the late 1950s and early 1960s attest.

What comes across is a singer with impeccable voice production, excellent diction, a pleasantly robust timbre – and, judging by the 1982 French-language interview included here, a refreshingly down-to-earth attitude to his art.

Alain Vanzo

Airs français

(Malibran)

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