Martinů’s Julietta performed by the Frankfurter Opern- und Museumsorchester

Our rating 
5.0 out of 5 star rating 5.0

LABELS: Oehms Classics
WORKS: Julietta
PERFORMER: Juanita Lascarro, Kurt Streit, Boris Grappe, Beau Gibson; Chor der Oper Frankfurt; Frankfurter Opern- und Museumsorchester/Sebastian Weigle

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Martinů’s dream drama needs to be heard in the language of the audience wherever it’s played – in this case German at the enterprising Frankfurt Opera; there’s much spoken dialogue and the recitative-like writing adapts to the bewitching orchestral textures, often rapidly, rather than following Janáček’s pure speech-melody. This sits well alongside the first recording in the original Czech and Mackerras’s realisation of scenes and fragments in French. A DVD would have been even more welcome, and there’s some stage noise, but again, following earlier triumphs in early Wagner and Strauss’s Die Frau ohne Schatten, the Oehms team realisesp the vividness of the resident orchestra under its brilliant music director Sebastian Weigle.

Kurt Streit, past his Mozart glory days, is now a fine singing actor as dreamer Michel, with only a slight weakness in the very highest register, rarely called for here. The girl of his dreams – she only gets the generic name ‘Juliette’ in the denouement – is urgently characterised by Juanita Lascarro; a slight cloudiness at times suits the elusive character. Excellent work from the Frankfurt house singers, too, especially from tenor Beau Gibson in three roles and baritone Boris Grappe in four. You should be beguiled by changes of pace and texture even when you’re wondering when the dream will end; trust the work, and your patience will be rewarded in the last act, which reaches the heights of Bartók’s Bluebeard’s Castle with an epilogue as powerful as anything in Janáček.

David Nice

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Listen to an excerpt from this recording…