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Fred Cohn
Opera News, September 2013

Tenor Ramón Vargas has been a Met stalwart for more than two decades, and he has been so reliable a performer over that whole period that it might be easy to overlook just how good he really is. The present CD serves as a bracing reminder. Each of its twelve arias is a demonstration of Vargas’s musicality, his attention to line and, above all, the brilliant upper range of his voice.

This is no bantamweight Rossinian: for a singer of Vargas’s lirico-spinto ilk to have such effortless access to the notes above the staff is both a gift and an accomplishment. The second stanza of “E lucevan le stelle” hits the voice right at its sweet spot…High passages that can lead some tenors to the outer reaches of their capabilities find Vargas completely within his comfort zone. The declamatory opening of Gabriele’s Act II scena from Simon Boccanegra is here not a rant but real music, the line knit so tightly it could be a bel canto cantabile. The Fausts of three different composers all benefit from Vargas’s ease on high.

Conductor Riccardo Frizza lends flexible, finely gauged support to Vargas’s singing and draws solid, dark tone from the Budapest Symphony Orchestra. © 2013 Opera News Read complete review

Mary Kunz Goldman
The Buffalo News, July 2013

The Mexican tenor Ramon Vargas is one of our great living singers, with a breathtakingly beautiful voice and a smoldering approach to music. Listening to him makes me think I have praised other tenors too generously. Vargas just grabs you with that voice. He radiates emotion—even if you don’t understand exactly what the words are he is singing, you cannot help but catch his drift. Beyond that, you have to marvel at his sheer power.

Listening to him pour out those soaring notes in two famous arias in “Tosca”—and of course “Nessun Dorma,” from “Turandot”—it’s like marveling at a perfect piece of engineering. He combines virtuosity with humanity, a most excellent thing in an opera singer.

Vargas puts the role, which he has sung at the Met, in an astonishing, passionate new light. As one listener comments on YouTube: “He sings on the razor’s edge.” © 2013 The Buffalo News

George Hall
Opera, July 2013

Indeed, [Vargas’] tone throughout the demanding Boccanegra piece is glorious, entirely confident and perfectly realized in a performance offering detailed vocal colouring as well as musical distinction. Verdi provides him with another congenial vehicle in Jacopo’s second-act aria from I due Foscari, which he mines for meaning and explores to a depth one might not have supposed possible.

The sound…is rich and healthy, but his singing is stylistically astute, with a keen concentration on the meaning of the text. The arias by Cilea, Gounod, Massenet and Berlioz all reveal considerable delicacy and insight; the two unusually inward Mefistojele extracts, though vividly sung, remain thoughtful and considered. Riccardo Frizza conducts the entire repertoire sympathetically, drawing focused playing from his Hungarian musicians and perfectly matching Vargas’s searching approach. © 2013 Opera

Ronni Reich, May 2013

…Ramón Vargas[’]…voice soars in sparsely accompanied arias from Cilea’s “L’Arlesiana” and Verdi’s “Simon Boccanegra.” He is also forceful in richer pieces from Massenet’s “Werther” and Verdi’s “I Due Foscari.” Two arias from Boito’s “Mefistofele” highlight his innate lyricism. In selections from Puccini’s “Tosca” and “Turandot,”…he leaves a distinctive mark on these standards, with elegant phrasing and a heartfelt delivery. Riccardo Frizza leads the Budapest Festival Orchestra with just the right balance of bold sound and deference to the singer. © 2013 Read complete review

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