Notes and Editorial Reviews
This is a fine rarity from a composer whose operatic output is usually known only for Medea, which became burnt in the public's imagination through Maria Callas' performances in the 1950s. Les Abencerages was premiered in 1813 with Napoleon in attendance. Spontini and Berlioz admired it. It was briefly popular and then disappeared for 150 years when it was presented in Italy in Italian translation; now occasionally a curious French tenor will sing one of its arias. This performance is in French.
It concerns feuding Moorish tribes in Granada and the love between Almanzor, a member of the Abencerages, and Noraime, a princess of his arch-enemies, the Zegris. His reputation is ruined when he loses the flag of Granada in battle and
he is banished. He sneaks back into the Alhambra to see Noraime and is captured and sentenced to be hurled from a cliff unless someone fights his accuser, Alemar, a Zegri, for his life. A disguised knight (the Spanish General, Gonzalve) comes and takes the challenge and defeats Alemar, in the process proving that Almanzor really hadn't lost the flag; he had, in fact, given it to someone for safe-keeping who betrayed him. All ends happily, with the lovers united.
Well, who cares if there's no depth of characterization? There are lots of good melodies, impressive arias and choruses, and the finales are well put together and exciting. There's the occasional whiff of Spain plugged in, but otherwise the music is just plain Romantic-Classical French opera. The cast is good, with tenor Francisco Ortiz a find as Almanzor; the voice is handsome and he works hard. Where is he now? (This recording was made in 1975, but this is its first appearance.) Margherita Rinaldi, who apparently never stopped singing throughout the entire '70s (she's on hundreds of vaguely unknown recordings) is lovely and potent as Noraime. Gonzalve is another tenor part, and Jean Dupouy also is a real find. Bass Jacques Mars is a strong Alemar. The rest of the cast is good.
Peter Maag leads his RAI Milano forces with a keen understanding of the work, and orchestra and chorus are solid. This is a fine work, and this is a good performance, well-recorded, and recommended. The booklet contains a good synopsis, but the libretto is only in French.
--Robert Levine, ClassicsToday.com
Works on This Recording
Les abencérages by Luigi Cherubini
Angelo degl' Innocenti (Tenor),
Jacques Mars (Bass Baritone),
Ermanno Lorenzi (Tenor),
Andrea Snarski (Baritone),
Francisco Ortiz (Tenor),
Carlo Schreiber (Bass),
Mario Machi (Baritone),
Carmen Lavani (Soprano),
Maria Del Fante (Soprano),
Vittorina Magnaghi (Soprano),
Jean Dupouy (Tenor),
Margherita Rinaldi (Soprano)
Italian Radio Symphony Orchestra Milan,
Italian Radio Chorus Milan
Written: by 1813; France
Date of Recording: 01/15/1975
Venue: Live Milan, Italy
Length: 126 Minutes 43 Secs.
Be the first to review this title