Respighi: Marie Victoire
The neglect of Ottorino Respighi’s operas may not be hard to fathom, but it is a little harsh. Numbering ten in total, they have been overshadowed by his brilliantly orchestrated tone poems, and though some have received occasional productions, Marie Victoire (composed in 1914) was not premiered until 2004 in Rome. This recording was made at Berlin’s Deutsche Oper in 2009.
Marie Victoire, set to a French libretto, is a revolutionary opera following in the tradition of Giordano’s Andrea Chénier, and it’s stylistically reminiscent of Massenet and Strauss. It tells the story of Countess Marie who, believing her husband, Maurice, to be dead, and finding herself on death row under The Terror, gives in to Clorivière’s advances. By the time she is freed after Robespierre’s fall, she is pregnant. Seven years later, working as a Parisian milliner, she meets her child’s father again, just as Maurice returns from exile. When the royalist Clorivière attempts to assassinate Napoleon, Maurice is accused of the crime. Clorivière appears later in court, confesses, and shoots himself.
Michail Jurowski marshals his large forces with conviction, and Takesha Meshé Kizart seizes all the opportunities of the title role to sing with velvet-toned warmth.