Peter Mattei (born 1965 in Sweden) has been internationally active for more than a decade, performing at all the major operatic venues in a variety of high-profile roles. Yet, for some reasons he is not (yet) a house-hold name. Perhaps it is a combination of his reluctance to take on too many engagement and too many roles. And then there is the (lacking) recordings as this 2011 solo recital disc is in fact his first.
On stage Peter Mattei´s main calling cards are Don Giovanni (title role), the Figaro Count and Eugene Onegin and these we do have on DVD, though the Don Giovanni is from 2002 and hopefully the La Scala Opening performance from 2011 with Daniel Barenboim will be released at some point.
There is universally agreement that in his core repertoire, Peter Mattei is among the very few best in the world, and subsequently he sang title role in the two most prestigious openings of Don Giovanni last year: At the opening evening of the La Scala 2011-12 season with Daniel Barenboim and at the premiere of the new Don Giovanni production at the Metropolitan Opera (though substituting for an ailing Mariusz Kwiecien).
Peter Mattei has a very exceptional voice characterized by a formidable open sound, a strong high register, and a very distinctive middle register with a sound almost bordering on the metallic. Combined with a very straight delivery, for me, at least, his may be the most attractive voice in a repertoire which includes Simon Keenlyside, Dmitri Hvorostovsky and Mariusz Kwiecien among the prominent interpreters.
On this disc we have three excerpts from Don Giovanni including a Deh, vieni probably not to be heard more beautiful. Another of his calling cards, the Count in Figaro is represented with "hai gia vinto la cause" as well as Figaro´s "Se vuol ballare" sung with the elegant voice underlining why his calling card i the Count and not Figaro. The elegance continues in the two arias from Eugene Onegin.
I have heard Peter Mattei´s Posa (Don Carlo) live, a role he should sing more often, here represented with "O Carlo ascolta". The same goes for Valentin in Faust, where it is clear he would be among the top performers of the role, did he just opt to sing it.
Peter Mattei has been wary moving into the heavier repertoire, cancelling a Macbeth in Stockholm a couple of seasons ago. Next season he is scheduled as Amfortas in the Metropolitan Opera new production of Parsifal (not represented here) however we have the more lyric part of Wolfram in Tannhäuser, here with two excerpts including the famous Song to the Evenstar , I don´t recall him having performed on stage, but his delivery is very beautiful.
A recital disc like this can hardly avoid a certain sameness to creep in at point. However, in Peter Mattei´s case it is a very beautiful and elegant sameness and this disc presents him at his best. Now, would he only perform a bit more on the international stages..
Deh, vieni - not from this CD, but from Aix-en-Provence 2002: