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Massenet: Esclarmonde / Bonynge, Sutherland, Aragall


Release Date: 10/10/2006 
Label:  Decca   Catalog #: 4757914   Spars Code: ADD 
Composer:  Jules Massenet
Performer:  Giacomo AragallHuguette TourangeauDame Joan SutherlandRyland Davies,   ... 
Conductor:  Richard Bonynge
Orchestra/Ensemble:  John Alldis ChoirNational Philharmonic Orchestra
Number of Discs: 3 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 2 Hours 36 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

This performance is ravishing. In addition to the spectacular Sutherland, the under-recorded Aragall uses his attractive voice to great effect, Quilico is a proper menace as the exorcising Bishop, and Richard Bonynge leads a luxuriant performance.

This overweight bon-bon from 1889 is one of Massenet's most exotic and lush works, one filled with musical motifs that bring Wagner to mind. It was composed for the California-born soprano Sybil Sanderson, a large, stunning woman with whom Massenet was obsessed; her vocal agility, huge tone, and startling range (up to a G above high-C) are thoroughly exploited in the score, and it is no wonder that the opera is rarely performed. But along came Joan Sutherland, with all of the
Read more vocal characteristics (save the G--here she sings a lower E-flat option, and the high-Cs and Ds are frequent and gigantic), and the opera was revived and recorded in 1974.

As it turns out, the opera is gorgeous if you can tolerate such an unending parade of orchestral colors; imagine a very expensive paint store exploding in front of you. The plot is all sorcery, enchanted isles, knights, and a quite dazzling exorcism, and if your belief can be suspended that much and you allow yourself to bask in it, this is one of opera's greatest guilty pleasures. And the duets are as stunning as anything in Manon or Werther.

This performance is ravishing. In addition to the spectacular Sutherland, the under-recorded Catalan tenor Giacomo Aragall uses his attractive voice to great effect, baritone Louis Quilico is a proper menace as the exorcising Bishop, and Clifford Grant intones importantly as Esclarmonde's father. Huguette Tourangeau's weird mezzo is on display as Esclarmonde's sister. Richard Bonynge leads a luxuriant performance.

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

1. Esclarmonde by Jules Massenet
Performer:  Giacomo Aragall (Tenor), Huguette Tourangeau (Mezzo Soprano), Dame Joan Sutherland (Soprano),
Ryland Davies (Tenor), Louis Quilico (Baritone), Clifford Grant (Bass),
Robert Lloyd (Bass), Ian Caley (Tenor), Graham Clark (Tenor)
Conductor:  Richard Bonynge
Orchestra/Ensemble:  John Alldis Choir,  National Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1889; France 
Date of Recording: 1975 
Length: 155 Minutes 52 Secs. 
Language: French 

Sound Samples

Esclarmonde / Prologue: Dignitaires! Guerriers!
Esclarmonde / Act 1: Roland! Roland! Comme ce nom me trouble
Esclarmonde / Act 1: Parséis! - O ma soeur
Esclarmonde / Act 1: Ah! trop malheureuse Esclarmonde!
Esclarmonde / Act 1: On vient, ma soeur!
Esclarmonde / Act 1: C'en est fait!
Esclarmonde / Act 1: Esprits de l'air! Esprits de onde!
Esclarmonde / Act 1: Roland! Roland! Roland!
Esclarmonde / Act 2: "Ah! Ah!"
Esclarmonde / Act 2: Où suis-je?
Esclarmonde / Act 2: Sois bénie, ô magie
Esclarmonde / Act 2: Voici le divin moment
Esclarmonde / Act 2: Hélas! Ma bien-aimée!
Esclarmonde / Act 2: Ecoute encor!
Esclarmonde / Act 2: O glaive, à ton aspect
Esclarmonde / Act 3: O Blois! Misérable cité!
Esclarmonde / Act 3: Kyrie eleison
Esclarmonde / Act 3: Dieu de miséricorde
Esclarmonde / Act 3: Noble héros!
Esclarmonde / Act 3: Gloire! Chantons notre victoire! A toi, Roland
Esclarmonde / Act 3: Gloire! Chantons notre victoire! Gloire à Roland!
Esclarmonde / Act 3: La nuit bientôt sera venue
Esclarmonde / Act 3: Mon fils, je te bénis!
Esclarmonde / Act 3: Je ne m'appartiens plus
Esclarmonde / Act 3: "A genoux!"
Esclarmonde / Act 3: Ah! Roland!
Esclarmonde / Act 3: Regarde-les, ces yeux plus purs
Esclarmonde / Act 3: Non! Tu ne seras pas à mes tranports ravie!

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