LABELS: Erato Libretto
WORKS: Orfeo ed Euridice
PERFORMER: Janet Baker, Elizabeth Gale, Elisabeth Speiser; Chorus, LPO/Raymond Leppard
CATALOGUE NO: 2292 45864-2 DDD
In the wake of a vogue for male Orfeos (Jochen Kowalski on Capriccio, Michael Chance on Sony) and Amores, this entirely female cast may stretch dramatic credibility, but in every other way it is a superb performance.
Dame Janet Baker, in her last operatic role (this is a recording of Sir Peter Hall’s celebrated Glyndebourne production dating from 1982), produces a sound of such glorious richness, depth and beauty that its inherent femininity does nothing to disconcert. In the supporting roles, Elizabeth Gale is a sweet and affectingly uncomprehending Euridice and Elisabeth Speiser an attractive, though somewhat mature-sounding Amore.
Raymond Leppard uses the 1859 Berlioz version of the score, but retains the Italian text. He also includes the final, celebratory ballet which is usually omitted. Under his masterly direction, the London Philharmonic Orchestra gives a marvellously vivid performance, urgent and atmospheric, but slower-paced and markedly less frenzied than is often the case. The Glyndebourne Chorus, directed by Jane Glover, is also on outstanding form: the Furies convincingly malign and the Heroes and Heroines noble.
The sound throughout is limpid and impeccably balanced. Claire Wrathall