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Delibes: Lakmé / Lombard, Mesplé, Burles, Soyer, Et Al

Release Date: 04/09/2002 
Label:  Emi Great Recordings Of The Century Catalog #: 67745   Spars Code: ADD 
Composer:  Léo Delibes
Performer:  Agnes DisneyMonique LinvalCharles BurlesDanielle Millet,   ... 
Conductor:  Alain Lombard
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Paris Opéra Comique OrchestraParis Opéra Comique Chorus
Number of Discs: 2 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 2 Hours 30 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

DELIBES Lakmé Mady Mesplé ( Lakmé ); Charles Burles ( Gerald ); Roger Soyer ( Nilakantha ); Danielle Millet ( Mallika ); Jean-Christophe Benoît ( Frédéric ); Agnès Disney ( Miss Bentson ); Alain Lombard, cond; Read more Théâtre de l’Opéra Comique O & Ch EMI 67745 (2 CDs: 149:09 Text and Translation)

This recording may in many ways exemplify the old adage, “In the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king.” The cast is not, in each individual role, the strongest on records, but in toto the sum of the parts is greater than the whole. Listening through headphones clearly reveals numerous tape splices, particularly in those passages featuring tenor Charles Burles. The sound quality is typical EMI standard of the era, meaning a somewhat shallow perspective on both voices and orchestra. Collectors younger than 45 may not even believe that this front-rank recording, now considered a phonographic classic, was not even issued in America on EMI’s top-rank label (Angel) but rather on its budget affiliate, Seraphim. Why was this? Possibly because, the year before, superstar Joan Sutherland had issued her own recording of Lakmé featuring the great French tenor Alain Vanzo, and sales of that set had not really abated by the time this one came out in 1971.

Yet those of us who bought the set without even knowing what the principals sounded like—and at that time, only bass Roger Soyer was well known in the U.S.—were utterly charmed by Mesplé’s intelligent, thoughtful, alternately vulnerable and independent Lakmé and Burles’s sensitively shaded, quintessentially French-sounding Gerald. (A caveat: Though Mesplé’s recordings were not readily available in the U.S., she did have an excellent reputation, via reports from foreign correspondents in the opera magazines, as being a first-class musician and a marvelous stage actress.) If Lakmé was a “chick opera” (pardon the profiling!), this recording was the chick performance supreme. And it still is.

FANFARE: Lynn René Bayley [5/2012]
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Works on This Recording

Lakmé by Léo Delibes
Performer:  Agnes Disney (Mezzo Soprano), Monique Linval (Soprano), Charles Burles (Tenor),
Danielle Millet (Soprano), Mady Mesplé (Soprano), Jean-Christophe Benoit (Baritone),
Bernadette Antoine (Soprano), Roger Soyer (Bass), Joseph Peyron (Tenor)
Conductor:  Alain Lombard
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Paris Opéra Comique Orchestra,  Paris Opéra Comique Chorus
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1883; France 
Date of Recording: 1970 
Venue:  Wagram Hall, Paris, France 
Length: 149 Minutes 44 Secs. 
Language: French 

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