Massenet : Esclarmonde

1974 (Audio)

Director: Richard Bonynge

  • Joan Sutherland
  • Robert Lloyd
  • Giacomo Aragall
  • Clifford Grant
  • Huguette Tourangeau

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    This overweight bon-bon from 1889 is one of Massenet's most exotic and lush works, one filled with musical motifs that bring Wagner to mind.
    It was composed for the California-born soprano Sybil Sanderson, a large, stunning woman with whom Massenet was obsessed; her vocal agility, huge tone, and startling range (up to a G above high-C) are thoroughly exploited in the score, and it is no wonder that the opera is rarely performed. But along came Joan Sutherland, with all of the vocal characteristics (save the G--here she sings a lower E-flat option, and the high-Cs and Ds are frequent and gigantic), and the opera was revived and recorded in 1974.

    As it turns out, the opera is gorgeous if you can tolerate such an unending parade of orchestral colors; imagine a very expensive paint store exploding in front of you. The plot is all sorcery, enchanted isles, knights, and a quite dazzling exorcism, and if your belief can be suspended that much and you allow yourself to bask in it, this is one of opera's greatest guilty pleasures. And the duets are as stunning as anything in Manon or Werther.

    This performance is ravishing. In addition to the spectacular Sutherland, the under-recorded Catalan tenor Giacomo Aragall uses his attractive voice to great effect, baritone Louis Quilico is a proper menace as the exorcising Bishop, and Clifford Grant intones importantly as Esclarmonde's father. Huguette Tourangeau's weird mezzo is on display as Esclarmonde's sister. Richard Bonynge leads a luxuriant performance.
    (Edited from Classic Today)

    Enlaces relacionados
    Richard Bonynge
    Joan Sutherland
    Robert Lloyd
    Giacomo Aragall
    Clifford Grant
    Huguette Tourangeau