I had a complicated evening at the Wigmore Hall for Italian tenor Giuseppe Filianoti’s performance, leaving myself to bitter impressions on the way home, unfortunately worsening as I kept thinking through the night.
I don’t want to know about older triumphs or forthcoming excitements, for there are no writings of 1814 with quills of 1804, and I will stick to judging that one recital of 11th March. It wasn’t good. It wasn’t bad either, even in any strict sense of the term, but it was unequal at best and unseasonable in far too many spots to be enjoyed as a whole.
There is no denial that Filianoti embraces a wide and intense understanding of the music and its lyrical lines, threading us to successive highlights of Italian late-romantic lied also with intact diction and clarity of wording. Every time the song took him to the higher middle register were his notes delightfully resonant, well balanced between warmth and sharpness for the lyric tenor type of voice.
But the music isn’t summed up all to singing out loud between Cs and Gs. The lower register was in a different place, the higher notes faded and weakened as height increased, adversely affected by the excessive amount of strength put in Es, Fs and Gs. Choosing Werther to close the recital’s first part in such conditions was infelicitous. I believe it was picked as a demonstrative piece for the record, while the fact is, 90% of a current classical audience has Jonas Kaufmann standards of Pourquoi me réveiller in their minds. It is a folly to venture in a space that will miss to recall similar sensations to the listener. The aria’s apex on a B-flat was very liberal, to say the least.
I will not spill over spelling mistakes or imprecisions despite the music standing at the tenor’s nose the whole time. Filianoti seemed to increasingly rely on his papers through the performance, and it is not what I expect from a show at the Wigmore, also because at some stage it impacts on the acting. None of the songs were out from the classics repertoire, therefore I am not coming to a concert hall to attend something resembling to a rehearsal with page-turning and sight reading. I’ll be honest, Giuseppe, La dernière lettre de Werther à Charlotte felt to me like you hardly knew the words.
Infinite are my apologies for that final statement, but the acting was erratic and the shirt and belt quite inappropriate. Most of the time, I just didn’t believe in the character I was looking at. Too much thought was put in every motion instead of instinct, betraying a lack of confidence, frequently leaning on the clumsy – part of the hand and fingers slouching on the piano, looking for a grip (gosh, that one is a long time known and fought irk-feeder), both hands in the pockets pulled forward, nervous movements, etc. – meanwhile the clothing was and will forever remain an enigma. Why wear an entertainer’s chemise chamaree, an almost contemporary Hawaiian shirt, when listening to titles such as Giunto sul passo estremo, Tristezza, Non t’amo piu, and seeing Werther on the brink of suicide! As if the shirt wasn’t enough to try and be funny in drama for who knows whichever reason, there was a similarly bizarre belt, whose superfluous length, like bad omen, spread over generously on the jacket for the encore’s Non ti scordar di me.
I would have forgiven it all to a young singer, and cheered, for it would have been a decent go at it. But this is not something to be expected at any moment from a man starting his fourth decade in life. Searching here and there, I may have learnt that, it is to be acknowledged, Sr. Filianoti has experienced vocal issues in a not so recent past. Yet I can’t take it as a sufficient excuse against my expectations for claimed pre-eminence amongst lyrical tenors of a generation.