LABELS: Opera Rara
WORKS: Medea in Corinto (excerpts)
PERFORMER: Jane Eaglen, Bruce Ford, Raúl Giménez, Alastair Miles, Yvonne Kenny; Geoffrey Mitchell Choir, Philharmonia Orchestra/David Parry
CATALOGUE NO: ORR 215 Reissue (1994)
As Henry II’s mistress in these highlights from Donizetti’s Plantagenet fantasy, Renée Fleming gives an object lesson in bel canto singing, dazzling in the coloratura pyrotechnics and shaping the cavatinas with exquisite grace and tenderness. Her lover, Bruce Ford, is hardly less fine, and there are notable brief contributions from Alastair Miles and from Nelly Miricioiu as the vengeful Queen Eleanor. The music has its routine patches, but is always dramatically effective, sometimes, as in the increasingly desperate duet between Henry and Rosamond, rather more than that. Vivid playing from the Philharmonia under David Parry.
Ford and Miles are also welcome presences in Mayr’s Medea in Corinto, where Jane Eaglen makes a mightily imposing – if slightly too regal – heroine. The high point of the score is Medea’s baleful Invocation Scene; elsewhere, though, Mayr’s invention – somewhere between Mozart and Rossini, without the genius of either – can be almost comically tame for the harrowing subject matter. Again, David Parry directs a polished, keenly paced performance. No texts with either set, though the detailed synopses are a partial compensation. Richard Wigmore