A Marechiare nce sta na fenesta” – a famous Neapolitan song by Tosti conjures up in the evening twilight a balcony window behind which the beloved remains still unseen. Her impetuous admirer stands below and describes, in a lively and enticing manner, the rising moon and the sparkling sea. The waves are somersaulting in merriment, he sings; even the fish are drunk with love, and he implores: “Come to me at last!”

The Neapolitan repertoire contains many such incantations that are capable of engendering vehement erotic agitation, from despairing desire through fervent praise all the way to jubilant seduction. Far too often, however, the expression of such extreme passion is reduced to exaggerated cliché.

George Frederick Takis avoids such wallowing in sentimentality through the level-headed approach of taking the texts seriously. In his interpretation, the canzoni swell from their own source of feeling and culminate in an authentic intensity. The guests sense that the tenor knows what he is singing about and are led to listen with the same attentive involvement. His brief and often humorous introductions indicate the contents sufficiently to assure that the familiar melodies suddenly appeal to the understanding along with the heart.

Opera arias by Verdi, Donizetti, Rossini and Puccini are presented with the same loving care and attain genuine expressivity. Rapid coloratura and high tones do not shrink into trite and dazzling display but resonate with the text they are intended to serve. At the same time, the singer cultivates the sensual appeal of this music and masters its extreme demands with accomplished vocal technique. Soft tones rise from his throat, gather in hovering pulsation, then stream, strong and clear as a ringing bell, towards the rapt listeners.