Notes and Editorial Reviews
Don César de Bazan is an opéra-comique with a narrative of dashing Spanish chivalry and romance. Its plot revolves around deception and comedies of reversed identity, with a struggle between true nobility and wicked selfishness maintaining an animated momentum throughout. This was the young Jules Massenet’s first full-length opera and yet it is filled with the composer’s mature symphonic style, his gift for melody, feeling for the picturesque, and vivacity of rhythm. These distinctive qualities reveal an operatic feast whose time has at last arrived. Conductor Mathieu Romano works within all genres from the Baroque to the contemporary, both on the concert stage and in opera. Romano has worked with ensembles such as the RIAS Kammerchor and the Latvian Radio Choir, and on operatic productions with Les Frivolités Parisiennes and contemporary projects with Ensemble Itinéraire. He also works with the Nederlands Kamerkoor, the Normandy Regional Orchestra, Les Siècles and Sinfonia Varsovia. He regularly appears with Ensemble Aedes, of which he is the founder and artistic director. His discography includes a number of acclaimed releases devoted to choral repertoire.
The cast is top notch, with Laurent Naoury (a bass-baritone in reality) courageously tacking the high baritone title role and infusing it with humor. Soprano Elsa Dreisig is a charming Maritana, tenor Thomas Bettinger an elegant King Charles, and the honeyed voice mezzo soprano Marion Lebègue a standout in the trouser role of Lazarille. All four principals evidence the high standards of singing prevalent in French opera today.
The haut de gamme Ensemble Aedes and the superb Orchestre des Frivolités Parisiennes are more than ably led by Mathieu Romano, who infuses Gallic panache into the proceedings.
– Rafael's Music Notes