Notes and Editorial Reviews
First performed at the Paris Opéra in 1802, Sémiramis by Charles-Simon Catel is an example of the revival at that time of the tragédie lyrique inherited from Gluck. A work with a touch of exoticism (Babylon), expressing the pathos of isolation, but also with pomp in its ambitious finales, the work bade farewell to the 'Louis-XVI style' and announced, in a neo-Classical style, the grand opéra of the Romantic period. But it came at a time of polemics between supporters and detractors of the new Paris Conservatoire, where Catel, at that time professor of harmony there, had made so many enemies that the audience pit at the Opera was bristling with vengeful hostility when the curtain rose on the first act... Hervé Niquet and his Le Concert Spirituel, this year celebrating its 25th anniversary, continue with their untiring rehabilitation of forgotten tragédies lyriques (we might recall here their Callirhoé by Destouches, Sémélé by Marais, Proserpine by Lully and Andromaque by Grétry) with this recording of Catel's Sémiramis made during the course of the Festival de Radio France, in Montpellier, in July 2011. The typical skill of Niquet when it comes to selecting singers - among who shine here are Maria Riccarda Wesseling and Andrew Foster-Williams - further helps to make this new operatic release a stimulating surprise for all lovers of the best in French music.