Charpentier: Louise

Our rating 
5.0 out of 5 star rating 5.0

COMPOSERS: Charpentier
LABELS: Sony
WORKS: Louise
PERFORMER: Ileana Cotrubas, Plácido Domingo, Jane Berbié, Gabriel Bacquier, Michel Sénéchal, Lyliane Guitton, John Noble; Ambrosian Opera Chorus; New Philharmonia Orchestra/ Georges Prêtre
CATALOGUE NO: 88697526312

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Berg, Debussy and Mahler all admired Gustave Charpentier’s one-off hymn to free love, liberty and Paris. The idea for its realistic, first-hand portrayal of Parisian freewheeling preceded Puccini’s La bohème, while both the free form and the nuanced French anticipate Pelléas et Mélisande by several years.
 
This is the most luxuriously-cast argument for a true original we’re likely to get, and lovingly etched by Georges Prêtre, albeit with some sonic distortion in lush climaxes.
 
The many characters depicting Parisian working life are all well taken, with especially individual characterisation from Lyliane Guitton, Michel Sénéchal and John Noble, and our heroine’s domineering parents are authentically portrayed by Jane Berbié and Gabriel Bacquier. Domingo kindles to his finest youthful ardour as Bohemian
 
Julien waxes indignant in Act III. But it is Ileana Cotrubas’s sweet but determined Louise who made me fall in love with this opera as surely as did Scotto’s Adriana
Lecouvreur in the first Sony Opera House batch.
 
This makes the best possible case for a Glyndebourne staging. David Nice