Arias etc by Meyerbeer, Ambroise Thomas, Donizetti, Massé, Halévy, Adam, Auber
Jodie Devos (soprano), Brussels Philharmonic/Pierre Bleuse
Alpha Classics ALPHA 877 64:33 mins
The Belgian-born light soprano pays tribute to one of her predecessors – Marie Cabel (1827-85), star of the Théâtre-Lyrique and the Opéra-Comique in Paris and creator of numerous roles, notably Dinorah in Meyerbeer’s Le pardon de Ploërmel (1859) and Philine in Ambroise Thomas’s Mignon (1866). Established solos from the latter operas – ‘Ombre légère’ (aka The Shadow Song) and the polonaise ‘Je suis Titania’ – feature alongside mostly forgotten pieces from works by those composers and their peers.
With her small, neat, exact voice and clear diction, Jodie Devos is well suited to such material, which she articulates clearly, getting around the notes with considerable fluency – if with a certain self-consciousness. There’s an appealing tang to the tone and an ability to fine the tone down where necessary. Occasionally there’s a shade of effort: one is not meant to know how difficult such pieces as Philine’s solo actually are, while this is not a voice capable of a great colouristic range.
Worthwhile discoveries include a sequence of numbers from Halévy’s mildly anti-Imperialist Jaguarita L’indienne (1855); two arias in which Elizabeth I determines to save the drunken Shakespeare from himself in Thomas’s Le songe d’une nuit d’été (1850); a fine number from Auber’s Manon Lescaut (1856), and two from Meyerbeer’s L’Étoile du Nord (1854) in which Devos shows off a good trill. The Brussels Philharmonic plays well, conducted with flexibility by Pierre Bleuse.