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Massenet: Werther / Pappano, Alagna, Gheorghiu

Release Date: 10/19/1999 
Label:  Emi Classics   Catalog #: 56820   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Jules Massenet
Performer:  Angela GheorghiuThomas HampsonPatricia PetibonJean-Paul Fouchécourt,   ... 
Conductor:  Antonio Pappano
Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Symphony OrchestraTiffin Children's Choir
Number of Discs: 2 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 2 Hours 8 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

This passionate reading of Massenet's sob-story goes straight to the top of the list of recorded Werthers. The recent Kasarova-Vargas BMG release was handsomely Classical; here we get echt-Romantic schmaltz and it's most welcome. It also helps that most of the cast is native French-speaking, particularly the Werther, Roberto Alagna. If he always sounded as good as he does here--right on key, thoroughly involved, shading his burnished tone--he'd be the greatest tenor around. Those of us who have been skeptics may as well hang up our doubting hats: this is a brilliant performance. His reading of the fatal words "Un autre son époux!" ("Another man is her husband!") at the close of Act One is colored so darkly that we Read more feel his pain. (Franco Corelli used to sing "A notra sunny poo" and crack me up regardless of the sentiment.) Alagna's wife, the Romanian Angela Gheorghiu, sings in nice French as well, and if her voice is not ideally suited to Charlotte's low tessitura, the darkness of the sound and her way with the text make up for it. She's more overt than Kasarova, who keeps her feelings to herself until she can't any more; Gheorghiu knows there's trouble from the start. Thomas Hampson over-sings (and over-pronounces) the role of Albert, but Patricia Petibon is a swell Sophie and the rest of the large cast is involved and interesting. Antonio Pappano leads like an Italian conductor without smearing the esssential Frenchness of the score--quite a feat--and the engineers have bathed the whole show in a warm glow. You won't be disappointed.

--Robert Levine, ClassicsToday.com
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Works on This Recording

Werther by Jules Massenet
Performer:  Angela Gheorghiu (Soprano), Thomas Hampson (Baritone), Patricia Petibon (Soprano),
Jean-Paul Fouchécourt (Tenor), Jean-Phillipe Courtis (Bass), Jean-Marie Frémeau (Baritone),
Pierre Dupont (Tenor), Sophie Boulanger (Soprano), James Savage-Hanford (Boy Alto),
Kirsty Gifford (Treble), Christopher Wayne (Treble), Sally Cannon (Treble),
Joel Gunter (Treble), Sarah Baillie (Treble), Roberto Alagna (Tenor)
Conductor:  Antonio Pappano
Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Symphony Orchestra,  Tiffin Children's Choir
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1892; France 
Date of Recording: 08/1998 
Venue:  EMI Abbey Road Studio No. 1, London 
Length: 128 Minutes 17 Secs. 
Language: French 

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