LABELS: Opera Rara
ALBUM TITLE: Gounod
WORKS: La Colombe
PERFORMER: Erin Morley, Javier Camarena, Michèle Losier, Laurent Naouri; Hallé Orchestra/Mark Elder
CATALOGUE NO: ORC 53
Horace loves the countess Sylvie who spurns him. Desperate to prove his love he is willing to roast the beloved dove which he has nasmed for her for a diner à deux that may win her. It’s a silly plot, but musically La Colombe is a little gem, blending charm and skill in equal measure and revealing Gounod to be a master of the opéra-comique form. The short overture masterfully rehearses the emotional landscape before the curtain rises on Horace and his godson Mazet in penurious exile, and the violin solo in the entr’acte would melt the steeliest of hearts.
One hero of this admirable Opera Rara release is Mark Elder, utterly committed to Gounod’s score and coaxing elegant music-making from the Hallé. There’s also some properly idiomatic singing, as you’d expect from a veteran like Laurent Naouri as Countess Sylvie’s Major Domo. There’s ripe mezzo tone from Michèle Losier as Mazet Horace’s servant/godson. And if Erin Morley takes her time to find the recipe for Sylvie, there is exactly the right helping of vocal tendresse when, moved by Horace’s sacrifice, she changes her mind about him; not to mention a cascade of coloratura and a final top note to satisfy the most demanding appetite when she declares that she loves him. Best of all is the young Mexican tenor Javier Camarena as Horace. No wonder he was only the third singer in the history of the Metropolitan Opera to perform an encore onstage during his debut in The Barber of Seville last year.