Aida – Great review of Riccardo’s Radames in Metropolitan Opera House
The first of the three remaining performances (February 23) was taken over by the young Italian tenor Riccardo Massi who has been singing professionally for only three years.
Signor Massi made a very fine initial impression and built on that throughout the evening. Tall, sturdy of frame with a chiseled Roman profile, the tenor looked like a warrior. Massi has an interesting background – he is an expert in the handling of ancient and medieval weapons. Before his operatic career, he worked as a sword-wielding stunt man in motion pictures filmed on location in Italy including Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ.
Unlike the usual park-and-bark Radames, the young Italian was an alert actor – he actually reacted with spontaneous surprise when Ramfis informed him he would be leading the Egyptian troops.
Massi also phrased “Celeste Aida” as a love song rather than a call to arms. The final B-flat was caressed mezzo-forte rather than bellowed to the galleries. A real spinto tenor, his rich full tone is darkly covered in the middle provoking concern for his upper register.
Yet the high phrases rang out smoothly and easily with no awkward lurching or strain whatsoever. Massi is careful about keeping the upper tones covered but didn’t tamp down the natural squillo. The voice sits firmly on the breath and unlike so many Italian tenors over the last forty years, he gives an impression of technical solidity and confidence.
A bronzed and resonant “Sacerdote, io resto a te” finished the Nile Scene in style. The final “O terra, addio” duet was phrased with elegantly turned long lines confirming that this new tenor is a keeper...