Notes and Editorial Reviews
The new recording of Ariane et Barbe-Bleue, with the BBC Singers and BBC Symphony Orchestra, stars American soprano Lori Phillips as Ariane, with Bluebeard sung by English bass Peter Rose, who is Osmin on the Telarc CD of Mozart's Abduction from the Seraglio. Dublin-born Patricia Bardon is the Nurse, and Welsh soprano Sarah-Jane Davies is Bellangére. In the CD program notes, Botstein gives background and context for the work: "When one hears the beauties of this score, the powerful representation of its characters' tangled lives, and the masterful orchestration, the comparison should not be with other works that have fallen out of the repertory but with those that remain. Dukas was a composer whose command of the craft of
musical composition was consummate and whose achievement, unexpected modesty and artistic self-scrutiny merit not only our admiration, but possibly even a degree of awe."
Like Debussy's Pelléas et Mélisande, Dukas' opera features a mysterious yet evocative libretto by the Belgian symbolist writer Maurice Maeterlinck. With limited action, the opera centers on the psychological relationship between the characters, particularly between Blubeard and his new wife, who is determined to uncover and understand his past. Accordingly, the heroine's role requires great stamina, as Ariane remains on stage singing for almost the entire opera. As Bluebeard's past wives emerge, the opera explores issues such as individual freedom, women's rights and the power of memory. John Ashbery writes in Telarc's album notes: "Luscious but pure as the cascade of diamonds that all but drowns the heroine, Dukas' score brings his strange parable magnificently into focus, weaving a seamless fabric of music, pantomime and poetry."
R E V I E W S:
“…Three cheers then for this wonderful new recording…Greatest plaudits should go to Lori Phillips who is thoroughly convincing in the exceptionally demanding role of Ariane. When she sings that ‘first, one must disobey’, it is clear that it would take someone far stronger in purpose than Bluebeard to argue with her. The supporting cast is equally committed and Leon Botstein paces the music masterfully, conveying both the lavish colours and the latent menace of the score…this is a triumph, outclassing Tony Aubin’s 1968 live performance (Gala), and, Katherine Ciesinski aside, boasting a stronger cast than Armin Jordan’s long-deleted studio version with its over-bearing orchestra (Erato). Anyone who remains unmoved by the magical hush when Ariane opens the seventh door should see a heart specialist as a matter of urgency.”
-Christopher Dingle, BBC Music Magazine, September 2007
Leon Botstein conducts the BBC Symphony Orchestra and the BBC Singers in an idiomatic, highly professional performance. In combination with the rarity of the opera and the beauty of the music it all adds up to the best opera recording of the year.
-Jens F. Laurson , MusicWeb International
Works on This Recording
Ariane et Barbe-bleue by Paul Dukas
Sarah-Jane Davies (Soprano),
Ana James (Soprano),
Laura Vlasak Nolen (Mezzo Soprano),
Patricia Bardon (Mezzo Soprano),
Peter [bass voice] Rose (Bass),
Lori Phillips (Soprano),
Daphné Touchais (Soprano)
BBC Symphony Orchestra,
Written: 1899-1906; France
Date of Recording: 01/2007
Venue: Colosseum, Watford, England
Length: 114 Minutes 32 Secs.
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