Vittorio Grigolo's The Italian Tenor

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Since his death in 2007, opera fans and media around the world have continued to speculate who might be "the next Pavarotti." The prospect remains enticing for many hoping to see another great, mega-star tenor on the world's stages.

Even before his passing, several potential successors to Luciano Pavarotti were being touted in opera circles including Juan Diego Florez, Salvatore Licitra, Marcelo Alvarez and Roberto Alagna. Pavarotti himself posited several young artists as worthy heirs, most notably Vittorio Grigolo, a former child prodigy whom he met during a performance of Tosca in Rome. Grigolo’s new album, The Italian Tenor, is this week’s Full Rotation.

Like Pavarotti, "Il Pavarattino," as Grigolo was called as a teenager, has done his time in the crossover market, releasing "In the Hands of Love," a 2006 album of pop and rock songs. With his dark, brooding looks, he was even tapped by the American Idol judge Simon Cowell to join the opera "boy band" Il Divo a few years ago -- an offer the tenor turned down.

Now 33, Grigolo takes a more serious focus on a new album devoted to the core Italian aria repertoire of Verdi, Puccini and Donizetti. His "full lyric" tenor voice is trimmer, lighter and arguably more delicate than Pavarotti's. That comes through in a characterful version of Donizetti’s aria “Una furtive lagrima,” a passionate reading of Verdi’s “Possente Amor Mi Chiama,” and a terrific aria from Gianni Schicchi, “Firenze e come un albero fiorito." Throughout the CD, Grigolo shows a fine sense of line and unerring diction.

Grigolo makes his Met Opera debut as Rodolfo in La Bohème on Oct. 16. In the meantime, listen to these two recordings and tell us in the comments box: does Vittorio Grigolo have what it takes to be the next Pavarotti? We'll be reading your comments on the air this week.

The Italian Tenor
Vittorio Grigolo, tenor
Sony Classical
Available on Arkivmusic.com