Whilst perusing the annals of YouTube in the early hours of the morning, I came across the velvety voice of Italian baritone Riccardo Novaro. Born in Savona, Italy, Novaro studied with some excellent teachers, including the great Renata Scotto and Leyla Gencer. After winning the Cagliari Competition for Young Operatic Artists, Novaro debuted as Guglielmo in Così fan tutte at the Teatro delle Saline in Cagliari. He has since performed in roles such as Dandini in La Cenerentola, and Achilla in Giulio Cesare.
The aria I listened to was "Dal fulgor di questa spada", from the role of Achilla in G.F. Handel's Giulio Cesare. The aria is a rage aria, sung by Achilla after Tolomeo has denied him the hand of Cornelia. It is from a live recording. Novaro is comfortable singing this type of aria, adding the right amount of roughness to the voice without losing too much tonal integrity, and giving the right amount of rawness in order to give the performance the edge it needs.
In the 'A' section, Novaro expresses perfectly the anger Achilla feels towards Tolomeo, stressing key phrases skillfully. His emphasis on the rising set of arpeggios on the phrase "questa spada vo' che cada" towards the end of the 'A' section has an aggression which is impossible to miss. Novaro's choice of ornamentation in the da capo remains above the stave in the main, vocally 'rasing his voice' as one would if one were angry. In the 'B' section Novaro sings a smoother line, much more legato than the 'A' section. Novaro's roar on the last "valor", however, shows his impatience, and his urgency for vengeance on Tolomeo.
Novaro manages both the low-lying, and mid-to-high voice coloratura passages very well, singing each note without slurring, keeping the notes detached in the Baroque style. He also skillfully navigates the large jumps between registers, such as the octave and a half leaps from Bb2 to F4. His punchy style adds to the clarity of both the music and the text. The tempo of the aria has been well chosen: not too fast for Novaro's big voice to become slurred, but not to slow to lose the intensity. Novaro gives a great character performance of this challenging aria, and clearly both understands and communicates the meaning of the text.
Do check out his Facebook Fan-Club page, and his Intermusica page. I'm looking forward to hearing more of Riccardo Novaro soon: hopefully in London!