Roberto Alagna, Barbican: disappointing

Well, you can’t win ‘em all. 


After a run of outstanding gigs, I expected another at London’s Barbican on Friday.  After all, Roberto Alagna is one of my favourite tenors.  And the programme was entirely Verdi.  The omens were good.


And if you went by the delirious reaction of the pension-age faithful, this was an Earth-shattering gig.  As the doe-eyed fan proudly confessed to me after the gig: “Roberto’s marvellous … he can do no wrong… “.


Despite my predilection for the singer – I’ve always been impressed by Alagna at Covent Garden, and warm to his easy, affable Sicilian  manner (he acts more like a Palermo midfield ball-winner than a precious keeper of the operatic flame) I felt Friday’s concert gig was well below the standard of other recent concert stagings I’ve seen, notably Bartoli and Fleming.




1.    setlist – some poorly chosen Verdi

2.    use of full orchestra and choir – Alagna had to compete with well over 100 other musicians on stage; at times, he was drowned out

3.    orchestra and choir had too many songs, sans Alagna

4.    performance – some of his tempi and pitch were hit and miss; he seemed to pull out of a few top Cs

5.    the singer’s shameless guying to the crossover popopera audience

6.    the fourth encore – a Sicilian pop song devoted to his lovely wife Angela, seated in row 10 – he will love her till he dies, apparently.  FerChrissakes, Roberto!


I really wanted to dig this gig, but it left me disappointed, despite four encores. It won’t stop me booking for Alagna every time he appears at the Royal Opera House, though.



Gerry Smith


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