Leading English mezzo-soprano Diana Montague performs a kaleidoscopic selection of pieces from the French operatic repertoire. This album features an excellent selection of well-known and lesser-known works including the extremely popular flower duet from Lakmé.
Diana Montague is joined in three extracts by mary Plazas and Bruce Ford, both renowned exponents of Opera in English.
Orpheus’s closing arias from Gluck’s Orpheus and Eurydice was originally written in Italian for Vienna, rewritten in French for Paris, and made famous by Kathleen Ferrier in English - a tribute to the power of singing in the vernacular. The mellifluous, nocturnal mood of the Trio from Rossini’s Count Ory is among the glories of Rossinian - and French - opera. Donizetti’s La favorite was written for the French capital, but historically was heard more often in italian; ’O mon Fernand’ (Oh my beloved) in this recording includes the Cabaletta often omitted from recital discs.
At the very centre of Berlioz’s Faust is Marguérite’s great lament, where she expresses all the sorrow in her soul. Gounod’s Faust was probably the most popular of French operas until Carmen appeared, its meldofy and theatricality made it a sure-fire sucess. In its day, Thomas’s Mignon was as popular as Faust, but is now seldom heard in the opera house.
Saint-Saëns’s bible-based, hieractical opera Samson and Delilah is another work that achieved immense and well-deserved popularity. It is notable both for its clever characterization, sense of stagecraft and above all, memorable melodies. In Lakmë, Delibes proved no slouch in writing catchy tunes. Offenbach wrote love with her professional partner Piquillo, she goes through various tribulations before true love triumphs. La Périchole at the height of his popularity and, after its premiere, it was soon heard in New York and London. The street-singer of its title is one of the composer’s most delightful creations. In love with her professional partner Piquillo, she goes through various tribulations before true love triumphs