Page 1 of 6 12345 ... LastLast
Results 1 to 15 of 85

Thread: French romantic opera on DVD and Blu-ray

  1. #1
    Moderator mamascarlatti's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2009
    Location
    Auckland, NZ
    Posts
    5,848
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default French romantic opera on DVD and Blu-ray



    Plácido Domingo in a very short skirt. And lovely melodies. I'm a happy girl.
    Natalie

  2. #2
    Senior Member sospiro's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2010
    Location
    Staffordshire, UK
    Posts
    5,049
    Post Thanks / Like
    Blog Entries
    4

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by mamascarlatti View Post


    Plácido Domingo in a very short skirt . And lovely melodies. I'm a happy girl.
    I already have it on CD .. but the thought of seeing the Domingo knees makes this very tempting.
    Ann

  3. #3
    Senior Member Herkku's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2010
    Location
    Vantaa, Finland
    Posts
    716
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default Gounod: Faust



    I had great misgivings about this, because the performance dates back to 1985, because I hadn't heard Araiza singing anything else than Mozart and Rossini, and because I hadn't heard Gabriela Beňačková sing anything else than The Bartered Bride. But as it was within my reach in a department store (as opposed to Amazon), I couldn't resist. I have always loved the music and the recording with Domingo and Freni, in spite of Freni's pronunciation.

    Here we have a performance from the Vienna State Opera, basically a classic one, although with some excessive use of dancers, where they are not needed. At least we are spared from the full ballet scene which was a must-have during the French Grand Opera age.

    The plot (based on Goethe) hardly needs explaining. Faust, an old philosopher, makes a pact with the devil to regain his youth. He makes Marguerite pregnant, kills her brother in a duel, and comes back from his further adventures to find Marguerite waiting death sentence for having killed her fatherless child.

    Raimondi as Méphistophélès is as good as you would expect. Araiza raises to the challenges of the title role admirably. The late Walton Grönroos (a fellow countryman of mine) copes with the role of Marguerite's brother, Valentin. Siebel, described as a student of Faust, is sung by Gabriele Sima, quite well, as is Martha, Marguerite's neighbour, by Gertrude Jahn.

    But the real revelation here is Gabriela Beňačková as Marguerite, a role famous for Bianca Castafiore in the Tintin cartoons and a role taken as a step-in by Christine in The Phantom of the Opera! I think The Phantom himself would have been proud of Gabriela's performance. She has a most agreeable voice, she can cope with the florid singing in the Jewel Aria, she has the high notes and certain power with them, and everything between. If she had been born a little later, she would be world-famous.

    The conductor is Erich Binder, who generally makes a good job, but the first duet between Faust and Méphistophélès is simply too fast.

    The picture quality is not the same as we have used to with more recent productions, but it's not bad either. The sound is perfectly good. If you are interested, you can't go very wrong with this.

  4. #4
    Senior Member Herkku's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2010
    Location
    Vantaa, Finland
    Posts
    716
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default Saint-Saëns: Henry VIII



    Camille Saint-Saëns did compose 13 operas, although only one of these, Samson et Dalila, is known, and if not so frequently performed, has at least been recorded quite often. Saint-Saëns was a child prodigy and lived a long life. He was a prolific composer, producing symphonies, orchestral poems, concertos, chamber music, choral works etc. right till the end of his life. Still, he is remembered by only a handful (or maybe two) of works: The Third Symphony, S&D, The Carnival of the Animals, Danse Macabre, Havanaïse, Introduction and Rondo Capriccioso and The 2nd Piano Concerto. For all his professionalism, he simply failed to rise among the greats.

    I'm afraid that this opera also has justly been forgotten. The story is interesting enough historically. The libretto seems to offer endless opportunities for great arias and ensembles. The Viking Opera Guide describes the music as being of "superior quality", but I beg most strongly to disagree! IMHO it never rises from the level of agreeable to memorable, let alone great - not for a minute. A pity. I can only imagine what the likes of Donizetti and Verdi might have achieved with this material.

    In the course of historic events we are dealing with a predecessor of Donizetti's Anna Bolena. Henry VIII was married to Catherine of Aragon for over twenty years. Catherine gave birth to two sons, both of whom were shortlived, had several miscarriages, only a daughter Mary surviving. So Henry became frantic about having a male heir and began to look elsewhere to find a more suitable spouse, his eyes falling on one of the queens maids-of-honour, Anne Boleyn. This time, he didn't have Catherine executed, but asked the Pope for an annulment of their marriage. As this was not granted, he forced the archbishop of Canterbury to grant the annulment and proclaimed himself the head of the Church of England. A kind of key moment in the opera is when Catherine burns a love letter from the Spanish ambassador to Anne. I'm not sure if Henry would have given a damn, since Anne was already pregnant with his child. So, Henry VIII could marry Anne Boleyn, and the story continues in Donizetti's opera.

    The performance here comes from Théâtre Impérial de Compiègne and is conducted by Alain Guignal and directed by Pierre Jourdan. Philippe Rouillon in the title role looks very much like Henry VIII depicted in paintings, and sings and acts with the appropriate authority. Michele Command and Lucile Vignon make the most of their roles of Catherine and Anne.

    So, if you are not interested to hear everything that Camille Saint-Saëns has composed, I can't really recommend this DVD.

    P.S. With a rarity like this I find it inexcusable not to have a booklet containing some information about the work.

  5. #5
    Senior Member Herkku's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2010
    Location
    Vantaa, Finland
    Posts
    716
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default Gounod: Mireille



    Let's be quite honest: this is the best imaginable performance of an almost completely uninteresting opera! It's difficult to comprehend that Gounod, whose Faust is so full of memorable melodies, composed also this one. There is nothing above "agreeable" music for two hours. Everything musically exciting happens in the last act, like the arias "En marche, en marche!" and "Ange du Paradies". But one has to admit that the production tries its best from the beginning. The staging is quite charming with its countryside feeling.

    I won't even bother to explain the plot. It's not from anyone's top drawer.

    Everything is conducted by Marc Minkowski, no less. Inva Mula sings admirably as the eponymous heroine, in the biggest role I have heard her. Her French is also better than Mirella Freni's, whom I have heard in an audio recording of Mireille. Freni wins in the more dramatic moments, though! The tenor Charles Castronovo is a positive surprise! I don't remember having heard him before, but he has a fine voice and happens to be good-looking, I suppose. We have to ask mamascarlatti! Actually, there are no weak links among the singers. I would like to mention Amel-Brahim Djelloul, who is a little charmer and should make it to the Loveliest Sopranos pages!

    All in all, this is a good performance and you might like the opera more than I did.

  6. #6
    Senior Member Almaviva's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2010
    Location
    USA
    Posts
    6,427
    Post Thanks / Like
    Blog Entries
    10

    Default Myerbeer: Les Huguenots on DVD



    I was not highly impressed. It's enjoyable, sure, but I find Meyerbeer not exactly memorable, he seems kind of formulaic. I did enjoy Raoul's first act romanza in spite of the fact that the tenor in this version is terrible; Marguerite's first aria in act II O beau pays de la Touraine - for its own merits and also for reminding me of la Touraine which is a French region that I love for its castles and its wines. The long duet between Marguerite and Raoul in the second act was good too. I really liked the benediction scene in the fourth act. But still, I don't know, something was missing. The overall impression was: meh. The main problem in this DVD was this moron Anson Austin. What a bad tenor!

    This production is Dame Joan Sutherland's farewell performance at the Sydney Opera, and she was old and not as good any longer but could still sing.

    The best part actually was the celebration for Joan Sutherland at the end, during and after the curtain calls. The public went crazy when she appeared. Wow - quite impressive and moving. She had tears in her eyes, wearing a black dress, spotlight on her, the public was throwing serpentines, confetti, flowers... It went on for half an hour. This alone may be enough justification to buy this otherwise pale DVD.
    "J'ai dit qu'il ne suffisait pas d'entendre la musique, mais qu'il fallait encore la voir" (Stravinsky)

  7. #7
    Senior Member Almaviva's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2010
    Location
    USA
    Posts
    6,427
    Post Thanks / Like
    Blog Entries
    10

    Default Leo Delibes: Lakmé on DVD



    Not impressed. I'll give it a B. Very old and stuffy production, technically old, but still, with good singing, particularly by Dame Joan Sutherland.

    Pros: Lyricism. It's got some nice pastel shades and some dreamy arias. Three or four of them are outstanding. Dôme épais le jasmin à la rose s'assemble (the Flower Duet barcarolle) is really beautiful, has that dreamy quality that. Où va la jeune hindoue (a.k.a. the Bell song) is a little bizarre when it gets into some outbursts of coloratura - but is a nice display of vocal agility anyway, and the fact that the coloratura alternates with the narration that Lakmé is doing, then recurs, ends up producing a very enticing effect, and this production has a very impressive performance by Dame Joan Sutherland. A third outstanding moment came with Fantaisie aux divins mensonges, a very lyric tenor piece that reminds me of some Italian belcanto tenor arias. Other nice moments were C'est le dieu de la jeunesse, a sort of conventional love duet but nice nevertheless - except for the very end when the orchestration gets a little annoying, I cared more for the vocal music. Dans la forêt près de nous is another nice love duet. The entr'acte between the second and third acts is nice and recovers the melodie of Dans la forêt. Lakmé! Ah! Viens dans la forêt is a good tenor piece. So, yes, good lyricism, some melodious and delicate music.

    But now the cons: a collection of some good arias doesn't a fabulous opera make. As much as Lakmé can be very alluring, it can also be very banal and formulaic in some other parts (like most of the third act), and I found some moments to be truly awful. Case in point, the Entr'acte between acts I and II, what was that???? And when the *third* consecutive ballet with the vestals came up, I couldn't stand it anymore, and was thinking - Léo, can you please drop these ballets and move on? And then, some of the moments with that annoying Miss Bentson and those silly Rose and Ellen had me thinking - haven't I seen this in something by Gilbert & Sullivan?

    So, it was very uneven. Some of the stuff in Lakmé is frankly populist in my opinion, and not very good at it. If Delibes' other 22 operas and operettas are any worse in terms of cons and not as rich in pros (which I assume they are, since I don't know of any other that has enjoyed equivalent fame to Lakmé's), I guess one could say that he was more successful as a ballet composer.

    But the pros listed above earn it a B, which is still good (that means I actually liked it); not all operas can be As. However, I think that I'll enjoy Lakmé in the future rather cut down to bits and pieces (I can see myself listening to everything that I mentioned in the cons by navigating directly to those parts in the DVD menu) than in its entirety.
    "J'ai dit qu'il ne suffisait pas d'entendre la musique, mais qu'il fallait encore la voir" (Stravinsky)

  8. #8
    Senior Member Almaviva's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2010
    Location
    USA
    Posts
    6,427
    Post Thanks / Like
    Blog Entries
    10

    Default Gounod: Faust on DVD

    Gounod's Faust.

    1985 production from the Vienna State Opera. Erich Binder conducts.
    Francisco Araiza is Faust, Ruggero Raimondi is the Devil, and Gabriela Benackova is Marguerite. Ken Russell (!) directs (and makes a mess).



    Starting soon.

    Overture - ominous music to start with. Getting more melodious now. Still, so-so. Too long. B-

    Rien! En vain j'interroge - Faust's first arioso/recitatif mix. I don't care for it very much. B-

    Le ciel pallît - more forceful and haunting than the preceding one - better. Faust prepares himself to commit suicide. Two choruses are heard - girls, harvesters, good people but Faust is not moved. A good scene. B+

    Faust curses God. Vocal lines and orchestration are both sort of overdramatic and the orchestration feels conventional. B-

    Me voici - d'où vient ta surprise? The Devil comes up.

    Faust asks for la jeunesse - À moi les plaisirs. The devil replies, Fort bien! The dialogue continues and is interesting. B+, spinning, merry rhythm and melodie, the best part so far.

    End of Act I. B- overall.

    ---

    Act II brings up six choruses, supposed to be lively and joyful. The first one is a drinking song, not very good. The ones that follow are not any better. The orchestration is pallid. C+. Then at the end they merge and it gets a little better. B-. This doesn't seem to be Gounod's forte. I've seen much better.

    O sainte médaille - a solo by a soldier. Very short. Started well but then ended abruptly. Not enough for a score.

    Avant de quitter ces lieux - this is above what we've had so far but nothing extraordinary. B+

    Another drinking song, a little better than the first one, with some drôle d'histoires told by members of the crowd. The devil comes to interact with people. B

    Le veau d'or - the first really good piece. A

    Mephistopheles makes a mess in the plaza - rather uninteresting scene. C+

    De l'enfer qui vient - pretty good piece. B+

    Ainsi que la brise legère - pleasant waltz. Not bad at all. A-

    Ne permettez vous pas la belle demoiselle - a lyric duet. It's an OK one. B

    the waltz comes back and ends the act.

    Overall - B+

    -------

    Act III

    Interesting prelude. B+

    Faites-lui mes aveux - OK. B

    Quel trouble unconnu me penètre - Salut, demeure chaste et pure - OK, now we're in business, finally a really good piece. A+. It was about time.

    Il était un roi de Thulé - charming. B+. However it stops the plot dead on its track, and is rather useless.

    Ah! je ris de me voir - The Jewell Song. Lovely, A+

    Seigneur Dieu, que vois-je - it starts a good stretch of melodious arioso, and some ensembles in rapid succession.

    It leads to a nice quartet: Je ne vous crois pas. A

    Il était temps - Mephisto sings his big aria, very impressive, with lots of gravitas. A

    Now it's time for a long love duet between Faust and Marguerite in various parts:

    Laisse-moi, laisse moi contempler ton visage. He sings, then she sings. Romantic, melodious piece. A. Followed by Il m'aime, Il m'aime pas. B.
    Then Ô nuit d'amour! Cel radieux! Big time melody, rolling, enticing, serenade style. A+, I like it a lot. Partez, partez, oui, partez vite! Marguerite has a pang of guilt and pushes Faust away. Overdramatic let down. B-.

    Divine pureté! comes to close the act. Again, the melody soars, and we get back to A territory, with a nice tune to end it after Mephisto comes back, and Faust and Margueritte exchange some more passionate lines, her back to her room and singing with the window open. Effective. A

    This act is far superior to the first two. I give it an A overall. The opera is getting progressively better: from B- to B+ to A. Looking forward to the last two acts to see what the global score will be.

    -----------

    Act IV

    Elles ne sont plus la - it's pungent, but somehow rubs me the wrong way, seems too lachrimose. I'm not impressed. B-. I'm not very much into this sort of thing (this is one of the reasons I don't care much for Madama Butterfly).

    Siébel comes in, it all continues in the same style. I still don't like it. There is something missing from this version - according to my synopsis, we're supposed to get a Mephisto aria here, and a pray by Marguerite. Nothing like this in this version.

    A march comes in. Deposons nos armes. A bunch of people arrive. By now the entire pace of this thing is pretty much shot. Gounod was unable to maintain what he had achieved in Act III.

    But then, Gounod recovers. Next is Gloire Immortelle - pretty good march. A-.

    This followed by Vous qui faites l'endormie, by Mephisto. Rather clichéd piece, punctuated by diabolic laughter. B-. The pace continues to suffer and the whole thing feels forced.

    Valentin, Faust, and Mephisto get to a trio. Redouble, O Dieu puissant. Again, rather mondaine stuff. B

    Lame sword fight ensues, Valentin gets killed. Or dying. As usual, in opera, people sing after they are poisoned, stabbed, or pierced by sword. What he sings is not that enticing, as he keeps insulting his sister. C+.

    Long, long, death scene. By now I'm bored. C-

    It ends on some tuneful, melancholic orchestration that is actually better than what came before it, B+.

    Act IV comes to an end, the weakest of them all so far. B- overall.

    -----

    Act V now.

    OK, now we get Marguerite in a church, trying to pray and Mephisto stopping her from doing it, ballerinas come around for a few seconds (no full ballet in this production, pitty, because I heard that the ballet music in Gounod's Faust is very beautiful), she is arrested. Souvient-toi du passé - the Mephisto aria that was missing before, is now up next. I guess this production switched the order of scenes. It is pretty good. A-.

    Seigneur, accuillez la prière - Marguerite sings, very lyrical, beautiful. Again we are in A territory. The scene ends well with the Devil shouting À toi l'enfer!

    Sc 2, the ballet, is skipped in this production. Bummer, because this one like I said is supposed to be good.

    There is a long brass/clarinet introduction to Sc 3, I like it, B+ at least if not A-.

    Marguerite is in her prison cell. Faust and Mephisto come along, Mephisto leaves, Faust sings. Oui, c'est toi. Rather good. A-.

    Gounod, Barbier and Carré try to move into high drama. I'm not sure if they succeed. It all seems to lack punch, since this love duet is definitely not as good as the one in Act III. B-

    A waltz tune comes up while they recall their first meeting. Nice. B+

    The orchestra comes alive and comments on the action rather nicely (unlike in most of the opera). It's ending well, and moving back into an A for this scene.

    Marguerite's melody, helped by the orchestra is actually quite beautiful and gets an A+. Le diable drags Faust away. Marguerite is about to be beheaded. Jugée... sauvée. Some church-like music comes up... Paix et félicité, they sing. But then Ken Russell screws up - he changes the ending!!! The guillotine falls. A gory, bizarre scene comes up when we see Marguerita's beheaded corpse raising from her coffin. What???? This isn't Gounod's ending. Final curtain.

    Act V gets an A.

    -----------

    So, time for the final judgment of this opera. Five acts. B-, B+, A, B-, A.

    The two As cancel the two B-, and we get to an overall B+ score. Seems fair.

    A B+ for me means that it doesn't surpasses the threshold to become one of my favorites, but has its merits.

    It is hard to understand why this opera is so much more popular than the vastly superior La Damnation de Faust by Berlioz, which shares the same topic and is better in every way we look into it (orchestration, pace, lyricism, dramatic impact, creativity, effectiveness, duration, etc.).

    About this production - meh. Rather weak staging with with outrageous betrayal of the opera's ending, and some stage director tricks (come on, Ken Russell!) that didn't work at all (Marguerite is depicted as a nun). So-so singing. Gabriella and Ruggero did fairly well, but Francisco was subpar. But I don't think what I'm saying about this opera has to do with the production. Of course this opera can be made better by more talented singers and better stage directing, but it won't ever be as good as Berlioz's.
    "J'ai dit qu'il ne suffisait pas d'entendre la musique, mais qu'il fallait encore la voir" (Stravinsky)

  9. #9
    Senior Member Herkku's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2010
    Location
    Vantaa, Finland
    Posts
    716
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default Meyerbeer: L'Africaine



    My initial reaction of L'Africaine was: can this opera really be so stupid that even the compulsory ballet came as a great relief, or have I just had too many beers? Happily, the latter was the case. I have now watched it twice and listened to a CD version in Italian from Florence (1971) with Jessye Norman and like it more and more. It's quite as goos Les pêcheurs de perles or Le roi de Lahore. One ludicrous thing remains, though. Why call the opera L'Africaine, if you make it clear that "these people were not born under the African sun" already in the first act, and "these people" worship Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva in the fourth act? Perhaps Meyerbeer or his librettist, Scribe, were not very strong in geography... In any case, Meyerbeer considered L'Africaine his masterpiece, but died before it was premiered.

    To me, the only familiar thing of the opera has been the tenor aria "Oh, paradis!". But there are more goodies even if much of the music doesn't rise above "agreeable enough". The performance here, recorded in San Francisco in 1988, has a dream team as the principal quartet: Domingo as Vasco da Gama, Verrett as Sélika (the would-be African), Ruth Ann Swenson as Inès and Justino Díaz as Nélusko (also a would-be African). All four are in glorious voice. I wonder why I have heard or seen so little of Swenson? I know her only from a recording of Gounod's Roméo et Juliette, where I liked her enormously. She is at least as good a soprano as - dare I say it? - Netrebko. If I could change something, I would replace Verrett with Jessye Norman. Verrett is really very good, no difficulties for her in the higher tessitura (the role is designated as a soprano), but you should hear Norman caressing each detail and nuance, even in the boxy acoustics of the older live recording!

    How to tell the plot shortly? Vasco da Gama has returned from one of his voyages trying to find a sea-route to India and brought with him Sélika and Nélusko, giving them slaves to her fiancée, Inès. Vasco wants to go on another journey, but ends up in jail after having insulted The Great Council, but ultimately through the machinations of Don Pedro, who is also interested in Inès. Sélika falls in love with Vasco (if she hasn't already) in the prison. Inès buys Vasco free by promising to marry Don Pedro. Meanwhile Nélusko has already tried to kill Vasco, but Sélika has intervened and shown the correct route to Vasco. A new expedition ensues, but with Don Pedro as the commander. All the four principals take part in the journey, Vasco in a ship of his own at his own expense. Two ships of Don Pedro's fleet are shipwrecked and Vasco comes to tell Don Pedro that he is on a wrong course. Don Pedro orders him tied to the mast. A storm begins and Don Pedro's ship is driven on a reef. The locals climb aboard and kill nearly everyone, our quartet excepted.

    So, now Sélika (a queen) and Nélusko are in their own realm. Nélusko wants Vasco dead, but again Sélika intervenes, claiming that Vasco is now "one of them" and betrothed to her. Vasco even goes along, but Sélika soon realizes that Vasco is still in love with Inès, decides to set them free to go to Vasco's ship, which is conveniently still around, herself reposing under a poisonous tree, knowing that she will die seeing the man she loves leaving.

    I have already commented upon our dream team of singers. The conductor is Maurizio Arena and the stage director Lofti Mansouri. The staging leaves nothing to be desired. As far as I know, there isn't any competition on DVD. For absolutely crazy enthusiasts - like me - there is the Florence recording on CD.

    P.S. The ballet scene is really the dullest part of the opera, when watched not completely soused!

    P.P.S. Meyerbeer would certainly fit into the next hundred of recommended operas with this, Les Huguenots and Le Prophète! I'm going to watch Dinorah next and I'm still waiting for my L'ètoile du nord and Robert le Diable, although on CD only.
    Last edited by Herkku; Dec-29-2010 at 02:15.

  10. #10
    Senior Member DarkAngel's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2010
    Location
    La Scala
    Posts
    3,659
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default

    I have that DVD with different artwork in my DVD to watch pile......

    Mainly I wanted Shirley Verrett opera performance and this is one of the very few available. Also just released is a MET Tosca with Verrett and Pavoratti, but I have so many Toscas already..........eventually I will watch L'Africaine and give some impressions


  11. #11
    Senior Member Herkku's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2010
    Location
    Vantaa, Finland
    Posts
    716
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default Halévy: Clari



    Before this, if anyone had asked me to name any other opera composed by Halévy besides La Juive, I wouldn't have known any. It turns out that he composed about 40! Maria Malibran sang the title role in the premiere of Clari and Cecilia Bartoli completed her Malibran project with this opera. Halévy composed it for the Théâtre-Italien de Paris, so it's in Italian, but since most of his output is in French and I think we consider him as a French composer, I decided - after consulting jhar26 - to put in in this thread.

    Clari could be designated as an opera semiseria, but since the melodramatic aspects are so unconvincing, I like the way it's presented here: as almost completely comic, and over-the-top at that! I have no idea where the opera was originally located, but in this production from the Zürich Opera House, the location is clearly Switzerland. Apparently, the Swiss are able to and do laugh to themselves!

    Clari, a country-girl, and a rich Duke find each other through an Internet dating service! They decide to meet and Clari arrives to the castle of the Duke, where a birthday party for her has been prepared. This includes a musical tableau that seems to be telling their story exactly. When the "father" curses her daughter, this is too much for Clari, who has left home without her parents' consent, and she faints. Recovering her senses, she begs for her father's forgivenness and rejects the advances of the Duke. The Duke is furious for this dishonour in front of his friends. In the next act Clari has been taken to a hospital, where she attempts suicide in her despair of having lost the man she still loves. In spite of the huge syringe she uses, she only succeeds in becoming delirious enough to burst into singing the Willow Song from Rossini's Othello (like Malibran did, we are told in the booklet) and you will be amazed how well it fits in here! Clari manages to escape from the hospital, when the servant of the Duke supposed to keep an eye on her, falls asleep. When the duke arrives, all remorse and burning desire, there is no sign of Clari. In the third act the Duke is searching for his loved one. Clari has returned home, but fearing his father's anger, hesitates to enter. His father, in his own despair, is about to hang himself and Clari has to expose herself, the Duke appearing soon after. Everything ends happily, but not until Clari has sung another insert aria, this time from another opera by Halévy, La Tempesta (Shakespeare! I wonder, when we will get to see that). Bartoli explains that in the original libretto there was text for an aria at this point, but no music for it in the orchestral score. So they chose this magnificent coloratura piece.

    Halévy had clearly heard his Rossini and the music is strongly influenced by this, but there is a budding style of his own, too. The orchestra La Scintilla uses original instruments, conducted by Adam Fischer. Cecilia Bartoli has clearly learned to control her facial antics and sings impressively. John Osborn as the Duke is mostly good enough, but has his awkward high note or two. The character of the Duke, with his makeup and clothes, looks like a type most women would think more than twice to fall for - probably part of the comedy. The secondary couple, servants of the Duke, Eva Liebau and Oliver Widmer, are really first-class comedians and sing very well, too. Clari's parents, Carlos Chausson and Stefania Kaluza, are good as well.

    There it is, not an essential part of the operatic repertoire, but great fun all the same!

    P.S. What has Cecilia done with her masses of dark hair?
    Last edited by Herkku; Jan-02-2011 at 16:37.

  12. #12
    Senior Member Almaviva's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2010
    Location
    USA
    Posts
    6,427
    Post Thanks / Like
    Blog Entries
    10

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Herkku View Post


    Before this, if anyone had asked me to name any other opera composed by Halévy besides La Juive, I wouldn't have known any. It turns out that he composed about 40! Maria Malibran sang the title role in the premiere of Clari and Cecilia Bartoli completed her Malibran project with this opera. Halévy composed it for the Théâtre-Italien de Paris, so it's in Italian, but since most of his output is in French and I think we consider him as a French composer, I decided - after consulting jhar26 - to put in in this thread.

    Clari could be designated as an opera semiseria, but since the melodramatic aspects are so unconvincing, I like the way it's presented here: as almost completely comic, and over-the-top at that! I have no idea where the opera was originally located, but in this production from the Zürich Opera House, the location is clearly Switzerland. Apparently, the Swiss are able to and do laugh to themselves!

    Clari, a country-girl, and a rich Duke find each other through an Internet dating service! They decide to meet and Clari arrives to the castle of the Duke, where a birthday party for her has been prepared. This includes a musical tableau that seems to be telling their story exactly. When the "father" curses her daughter, this is too much for Clari, who has left home without her parents' consent, and she faints. Recovering her senses, she begs for her father's forgivenness and rejects the advances of the Duke. The Duke is furious for this dishonour in front of his friends. In the next act Clari has been taken to a hospital, where she attempts suicide in her despair of having lost the man she still loves. In spite of the huge syringe she uses, she only succeeds in becoming delirious enough to burst into singing the Willow Song from Rossini's Othello (like Malibran did, we are told in the booklet) and you will be amazed how well it fits in here! Clari manages to escape from the hospital, when the servant of the Duke supposed to keep an eye on her, falls asleep. When the duke arrives, all remorse and burning desire, there is no sign of Clari. In the third act the Duke is searching for his loved one. Clari has returned home, but fearing his father's anger, hesitates to enter. His father, in his own despair, is about to hang himself and Clari has to expose herself, the Duke appearing soon after. Everything ends happily, but not until Clari has sung another insert aria, this time from another opera by Halévy, La Tempesta (Shakespeare! I wonder, when we will get to see that). Bartoli explains that in the original libretto there was text for an aria at this point, but no music for it in the orchestral score. So they chose this magnificent coloratura piece.

    Halévy had clearly heard his Rossini and the music is strongly influenced by this, but there is a budding style of his own, too. The orchestra La Scintilla uses original instruments, conducted by Adam Fischer. Cecilia Bartoli has clearly learned to control her facial antics and sings impressively. John Osborn as the Duke is mostly good enough, but has his awkward high note or two. The character of the Duke, with his makeup and clothes, looks like a type most women would think more than twice to fall for - probably part of the comedy. The secondary couple, servants of the Duke, Eva Liebau and Oliver Widmer, are really first-class comedians and sing very well, too. Clari's parents, Carlos Chausson and Stefania Kaluza, are good as well.

    There it is, not an essential part of the operatic repertoire, but great fun all the same!

    P.S. What has Cecilia done with her masses of dark hair?
    Is this worth considering for my $100 mini-spending spree? (See my thread about it in the main opera forum).
    "J'ai dit qu'il ne suffisait pas d'entendre la musique, mais qu'il fallait encore la voir" (Stravinsky)

  13. #13
    Senior Member Herkku's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2010
    Location
    Vantaa, Finland
    Posts
    716
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default

    Well, it certainly fits your description "off the beaten track" and I found it quite amusing, but will the magic last? As I wrote the music is very much influenced by Rossini. Maybe you would find something more worthwhile.

  14. #14
    Senior Member Herkku's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2010
    Location
    Vantaa, Finland
    Posts
    716
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default Meyerbeer: Dinorah ou Le Pardon de Ploërmel



    If you have thought that Meyerbeer was merely a composer of incredibly long, heavyweight and dull French grand operas, this is something else. Dinorah is commonly known of by a single aria, "Ombre Légère", a favourite of all coloratura sopranos. But, there is so much more to relish in it! I admit that it could have been shortened a bit, since it lasts almost three hours. This performance comes from the Thèâtre Impèrial de Compiègne, which seems to be a source of magnificent performances of rarely performed French operas. As it happened, Dinorah was the last opera of Meyerbeer, that he saw premiered. He died before L'Africaine's premiere. Anyway, it's an utterly charming opera semiseria, given here a traditional staging.

    Lazy as I am, I quote the plot from Wikipedia:

    Act 1: In the Breton village of Ploërmel during the annual pilgrimage to the chapel of the Virgin. Dinorah has gone mad because her bridegroom Hoël disappeared following a storm that interrupted their wedding on the same day the previous year. Hoël returns to the village, having discovered the whereabouts of a treasure. He enlists Corentin to help him recover the riches, but not without sinister intent, since according to the legend, the first to touch them will perish.

    Act 2: They descend upon the cache in a mysterious valley where Dinorah also happens to be. From her, Corentin learns about the legend, and later he and Hoël invite each other to inspect the treasure first. During that time, Dinorah in pursuit of her pet goat, steps on a tree trunk by a river as it is hit by lightning, and falls in the water and is swept away by the current. Hoël having witnessed the scene leaps to her rescue.

    Act 3: Hoël admits his love and regrets to Dinorah as she regains consciousness. She recognizes him and regains her sanity. The villagers arrive and sing a hymn of forgiveness and lead the two lovers to the chapel where they will be married.


    All the singers seem to be unfamiliar to me. Isabelle Philippe in the name part is almost perfect. When she has to hit her highest notes staccato, they may not be ideal, but when she is given more time to them, they are really beautiful. Armand Arapian as her would-be husband is very good. Frédéric Mazzotta as Corentin has very peculiar "r"'s, but is otherwise a good tenor. And who am I to critize a French singer about his articulation?

    The orchestra is conducted by Pierre Jourdan, who seems to be responsible for all these resurrections of the French opera coming from Compiègne .

    Finally, here lies the answer to my latest operatic quiz question:

    Last edited by Herkku; Jan-09-2011 at 17:55.

  15. #15
    Senior Member Almaviva's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2010
    Location
    USA
    Posts
    6,427
    Post Thanks / Like
    Blog Entries
    10

    Default

    Given Meyerbeer's and Wagner's animosity, and the fact that when Dinorah was finished Wagner was already working on Tristan und Isolde for two years, I wonder if Meyerbeer got word of what Wagner was working on and named this dog Tristan (or his librettist did, or maybe it comes from the source material?) as a way to spite Wagner. Any idea, Herkku?
    "J'ai dit qu'il ne suffisait pas d'entendre la musique, mais qu'il fallait encore la voir" (Stravinsky)

Page 1 of 6 12345 ... LastLast

Similar Threads

  1. Poll - how many complete operas do you own?
    By Almaviva in forum Opera
    Replies: 303
    Last Post: Apr-12-2017, 13:40

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •