Massenet or Meyerbeer? I always used to have to think twice. It's not altogether surprising, for here is Massenet broadening his canvas, brightening his colours, strengthening his outlines. There is a love story, to be sure, but it is swept up in the grand movement of nations, the throne, the power-struggle. To an extent, the composer is out of his element, and his score often resorts to what LS in his original review called "empty gestures": there's a ready-made musical language, as in a film score, in which a certain kind of chord or orchestration indicates a moment of high tension, and so forth. Yet for all that, it does survive as an opera worth reviving from time to time—as a whole, that is, and not just in the famous (orRead more oncefamous) 'bits'. The acts are notably well structured, there is quite a skilful play of light and shade in the handling (influenced, possibly, by Don Carlos), and, in the scenes before battle, in Act 3, an effective evocation of the stir and stillness of the field at night. As for the 'bits', they include the highly colourful ballet music, Chimene's "Pleurez, mes yeux" and Rodrigue's "0 Souverain, o juge", which are among the finest and most deeply felt of all Massenet's arias.
Gratitude, then, is due to this "World Premiere Recording" and to all responsible for it. At the head of the list stands Eve Queler, who has done so much to bring just such operas into the light of day and who conducts an animated, sympathetic performance. I thought rather less of Bumbry than did LS in his review, and I would now rate Domingo's contribution more highly than I did in the "Quarterly Retrospect" which appeared the following month. Bumbry is exciting and firm on fortissimo high notes and in the rich contralto depths, but in between I find few of her notes really steady. Domingo comes out with more incisiveness in the CD transfer: "O noble lame" perhaps wants still more edge, but his call "Paraissez, Navarrais" has a thrilling heroic ring to it, and (though in some quarters I think this was criticized) I like his phrasing up to the B flat in "O Souverain". The other roles might be better and could well be worse; so might (and could) the French pronunciation. Though recorded in New York's Carnegie Hall, the performance shows no sign of having an audience till the end, when they duly raise the roof.
Le Cidby Jules Massenet Performer:
Arnold Voketaitis (Baritone),
Eleanor Bergquist (Soprano),
Paul Plishka (Bass),
Placido Domingo (Tenor),
Jake Gardner (Baritone),
Clinton Ingram (Tenor),
Peter Lightfoot (Bass Baritone),
Theodore Hodges (Bass),
John [baritone (1970s)] Adams (Baritone),
Grace Bumbry (Mezzo Soprano)
Opera Orchestra of New York,
Byrne Camp Chorale
Period: Romantic Written: 1885; France Date of Recording: 03/1976 Venue: Carnegie Hall, NYC Length: 146 Minutes 0 Secs. Language: French
Average Customer Review: ( 2 Customer Reviews )
Not Often AppreciatedJanuary 25, 2013By Robert L. See All My Reviews"This purchase was a gift to my brother. I received the package very quickly and found everything intact though it appeared that one of the plastic insert holders for Disc 1 had a tab broken off in transit. No biggie but means disc moves around when handling. I only played the first few tracks of the opera to get a feel for Massenet's music and to read the accompanying libretto. After all, the opera was a present. The cast was quite good and the music uplifting and dramatic. Having the libretto along to read the French and English was a big plus. The package is certainly worth the money and I look forward to borrowing the discs and listening to the whole opera."Report Abuse
Massenet,s Grandest Recorded Opera so far.May 20, 2012By Keith Messersmith (Ashland, PA)See All My Reviews"This recording is without a doubt Massenet's grandest recorded opera. All rolls are taken by outstanding opera singers and the recorded sound is excellent. I listened for the first time with ear-phones on and was surprised to find out it was a live recording at the end. Now I would like to hear a good recording of his Cleopatra, for I understand everyone thinks that it would qualify for his greatest Grand Opera. Since we do not have a serviceble recording available, yes, Le Cid is his currently grandest opera. Highly reccomended."Report Abuse
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