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Bizet: Le Docteur Miracle / Jean, Souquet, Druet, Billy, Pruvot

Bizet / Orch Lyrique De Region Avignon Provence
Release Date: 07/30/2013 
Label:  Timpani   Catalog #: 1204   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Georges Bizet
Performer:  Marie-bénédicte SouquetIsabelle DruetJérôme BillyPierre-Yves Pruvot
Conductor:  Samuel Jean
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Avignon Lyric Orchestra
Number of Discs: 1 
Length: 0 Hours 58 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

BIZET Le Docteur Miracle Samuel Jean, cond; Marie-Bénédicte Souquet ( Laurette ); Isabelle Druet ( Véronique ); Jérôme Billy ( Silvio, Pasqui, Dr. Miracle ); Pierre Yves Pruvot ( The Counselor ); O Lyrique de Région Avignon Provence TIMPANI 1C1204 (58:15 Read more class="ARIAL12">Text and Translation)

Although Jacques Offenbach was indirectly responsible for this short operetta, the “Dr. Miracle” of the title is no way related to the villain who appears in Tales of Hoffmann . In 1857, he sponsored a contest which drew 78 candidates, who were asked to compose an operetta to a libretto, Le Docteur Miracle , by Léon Blum and Ludovic Halévy. Among the judges were Auber, Gounod, J. F. Halévy, and Thomas. The co-winners were the 19-year-old Georges Bizet and Charles Lecocq, who was 25 and continued to write operettas for the rest of his life.

The plot is simple enough: Laurette, the daughter of a counselor and his wife, is in love with a soldier. Her father disapproves. The soldier gains entry to their house by answering an advertisement for a servant. He cooks an omelet that makes the parents ill, and then poses as a doctor who will “cure” them if they let their daughter marry her soldier. They agree and everyone seems to be pleased at the result, even the parents! A previous recording, which appeared on the Opera d’Oro label, was taken from a 1976 Radio France broadcast led by Bruno Amaducci. Musically, it leaves little to be desired since the cast, led by Robert Massard (The Counselor) and Christiane Eda-Pierre (Laurette), sings well. Some will not object to the fact that the spoken dialog is shortened, but may still be annoyed by the fact that some of actors who deliver the dialog do not sound like their singing counterparts and seem to be in another acoustic space. I suspect that the cuts in the dialog occurred to fit the performance comfortably into a one hour broadcast (it actually runs 52 minutes). The Overture fades in about 2:10 before its end. Draw your own conclusions about that. Had the entire Overture been recorded, the timing would have been about 55:00. Although I’m devoting less space to it, I certainly recommend this new Timpani recording: it runs 58:15 and the singers in this provincial opera company hold their own with the Radio France cast and deliver their own uncut dialog with flair. In every respect, I prefer this new one. The orchestra is in the background but is prominent enough and clearly recorded. Given the high quality of this offering, I believe that anyone who is curious about Bizet’s first stage work (the Symphony in C preceded it by a year and a half) can safely satisfy that curiosity with this recording. The libretto comes in both French and English.

FANFARE: James Miller
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Works on This Recording

Le Docteur Miracle by Georges Bizet
Performer:  Marie-bénédicte Souquet (Soprano), Isabelle Druet (Mezzo Soprano), Jérôme Billy (Tenor),
Pierre-Yves Pruvot (Baritone)
Conductor:  Samuel Jean
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Avignon Lyric Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1856; France 

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