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Thread: Cherubini Operas

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    Senior Member Dustin's Avatar
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    Default Cherubini Operas

    Any comments or opinions on your experiences with Cherubini's operas? Medea is the popular one but I was shocked with how many others there are. I'm listening to Les Abencerages right now and enjoying it quite a bit.

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    I do have a Sony recording of Lodoïska and it's boring, even Riccardo Muti ( conducting) with his special style for opera can't change that.

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    Senior Member Couac Addict's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pugg View Post
    I do have a Sony recording of Lodoïska and it's boring, even Riccardo Muti ( conducting) with his special style for opera can't change that.
    I'm not a big fan either but I'm not sure how well Lodoïska translates on record anyway - Muti, or otherwise. It probably needs to be seen live. Most people are intrigued by it only because it influenced Beethoven's Fidelio.
    This space for rent.

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    Senior Member Dustin's Avatar
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    So do either of ya'll like Medea or are you just not much on listening to Cherubini at all? I've yet to hear a big chunk of his music but his quartets are really thrilling to me and Medea and the Requiem's stock are both rising fast.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Dustin View Post
    So do either of ya'll like Medea or are you just not much on listening to Cherubini at all? I've yet to hear a big chunk of his music but his quartets are really thrilling to me and Medea and the Requiem's stock are both rising fast.
    To be honest I do like the last act the most.
    I have a L.P of Medea with Eileen Farrel and that is breath taking.

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    Senior Member Couac Addict's Avatar
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    Médée is probably the best starting point for a Cherubini opera. Although, I'd think twice about hiring her as a baby-sitter.
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    Beethoven liked Cherubini a lot.

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    Senior Member Dr. Shatterhand's Avatar
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    Ask me again in a couple of months!

    He's a composer I want to investigate, but haven't yet.

    Piotr Kaminski (Mille et un opéras, 2003) considers him an important forgotten musical link; an original artist connecting the heritage of Classicism to the élan of Romantism.

    The significant works seem to be:
    Démophoon (1788), his first French opera, coldly received.


    Lodoiska (1791) - Clément and Fétis thought that with it, he founded the French school. Clément: "Dramatic music in France entered a new path. The effects of harmony and orchestration strengthened those of lyrical diction and melody. What Gluck had imagined for passionate expression, what Mozart had constantly practised in his German or Italian operas, Cherubini made a principle, and, by the constancy and perfection of his fine works founded a school knowledgeable, conscientious, distinguished, and favourable to the development and imagination of musicians. It is obvious that in writing Démophoon and Lodoïska, Cherubini opened the way to Méhul, Lesueur, and Spontini." (Modern readers might add Rossini's French operas, Halévy and Meyerbeer, Berlioz, Wagner.)
    David LeMarrec (Carnets sur sol) says the music - sinewy and condensed - anticipates Beethoven, including the martial interlude that far surpasses all the battles and storms of the repertoire until Wagner's Flying Dutchman. "A dizzying qualitative leap towards something modern and already Romantic. Tragédie lyrique is dead, and a freer and more mixed aesthetic is born."

    Médée (1797) - his best-known today

    L'Hôtellerie portugaise (1798)

    La Punition (1799)

    Les Deux journées (1800) - his greatest triumph

    Faniska (1806) - performed in Vienna, admired by Haydn and Beethoven, who called Cherubini the foremost dramatic composer of our time. (French composers - including Méhul himself - agreed.)

    He also wrote a superb Requiem (which I have heard!).

    Otherwise, Halévy's mentor and artistic father-figure; Berlioz's enemy. (Berlioz interrupted the performance of Cherubini's last opera Ali Baba (1833) by leaping to his feet and offering money for an idea, raising the sum each time; in the end: "I give up; I can't afford it!" Berlioz aside, the work was considered cold.)
    Last edited by Dr. Shatterhand; Oct-13-2019 at 10:35.

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    Senior Member Tsaraslondon's Avatar
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    And he admired Medea, or more properly, Medée enormously.

    Of course the opera Callas made famous is a hybrid, an Italian translation of a German version with recitatives written by Franz Lachner. The original work was an opéra-comique to a French libretto with spoken dialogue.

    That said, it really needs a Callas to bring it alive and as yet there is no good recording of the original version.

    Callas's studio recording under Serafin is not unfortunately her best (though it's still streets ahead of other studio recordings), but there are three superb live performances in variable sound.

    Florence 1953 under Vittorio Gui
    La Scala 1953 under Leonard Bernstein
    Dallas 1958 under Nicola Rescigno

    Any of these will give you a sense of the dramatic power this opera can have.
    "It's not enough to have a beautiful voice." Maria Callas

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