Javier Camarena has proven his worth once again with this new album dedicated to the music and roles of 18th-century Spanish tenor Manuel García. Besides fathering those famous sisters, Maria Malibran and Pauline Viardot, García was best known for originating the role of Almaviva in Rossini’s Il Barbiere di Siviglia, as well as for composing a number of light operas that were popular in his day.

Camarena’s impeccable taste and musicality makes this florid program of works by García, Zingarelli and Rossini highly enjoyable, rather than relentless and dull. His basic sound – warm and enveloping, with not a trace of nasality – sets him apart from the usual bravura divo.

Listen to Cessa di più resistere, which demonstrates his command of Rossini’s vocal fireworks and bullient style. The fullness of his instrument makes the aria imposing rather than hectoring for once, and there’s a true sense of the dramatic stakes. Equally impressive is Sì, ritrovarla io giuro from La Cenerentola, sweet and sincere.

Cecilia Bartoli joins the tenor for a duet from Armida, both of them on top form – their voices are so simpatico, it’s eerie. Of the five García offerings, the opening track is an opportunity for dazzling showmanship and mastery of tone colour – he delivers both in spades. The Zingarelli rarity is especially welcome, demonstrating Camarena’s incisive attack and musicality. Definitely one to check out.

Composer: García, Rossini et al
Composition: Arias
Performer: Javier Camarena t, Les Musiciens du Prince/Gianluca Capuano
Catalogue Number: Decca 4833958