Our rating 
5.0 out of 5 star rating 5.0

COMPOSERS: Berlioz,Bruneau and Rabaud,Gounod,Massenet,Meyerbeer,Reyer,Rossini,Verdi
LABELS: Warner
WORKS: French opera arias by Rossini, Verdi, Berlioz, Gounod, Meyerbeer, Massenet, Reyer, Bruneau and Rabaud
PERFORMER: Bryan Hymel (tenor); Czech Philharmonic Choir of Brno; Prague Philharmonia/Emmanuel Villaume
CATALOGUE NO: 0825646179503


Bryan Hymel’s collection focuses on French opera in its grandest period – from Rossini’s Guillaume Tell in 1829 to its late flowering in Rolande et le mauvais garçon, which Henri Rabaud completed in 1934. The leading tenor roles of this tradition require facility and strength at the top of the voice plus power and flexibility lower down – all of which Hymel supplies; in fact, he is clearly optimum casting for many of these roles today.

His French, while not of native standard, is excellent. He proves confident throughout the entire range of the Rossini item, his bright tone to the fore – though here and elsewhere the choral and orchestral surround is impressive under conductor Emmanuel Villaume, who has a keen instinct for tempo.

But the focus is inevitably on Hymel, who shows sensitivity as well as strength in the extract from Verdi’s Jérusalem, and sets Henri’s aria from Les Vêpres siciliennes skilfully in its dramatic context. The luscious quality of his tone suits Gounod’s La reine de Saba perfectly, and he brings a real sense of wonder to Vasco de Gama’s imperialist excitement in Meyerbeer’s L’Africaine – heard in a longer extract than usual.

Hymel also brings an expansive line to John the Baptist’s aria from Massenet’s Hérodiade, and some super-rarities – excerpts from Reyer’s Sigurd, Bruneau’s L’Attaque de Moulin and the aforementioned work by Rabaud – find him on equally ardent form.


George Hall