WORKS: Die Hochzeit des Camacho
PERFORMER: Rosmarie Hofmann, Scot Weir, Huw Rhys-Evans, Nico van der Meel, Urban Malmberg, Ulrik ColdDer Junge Chor Aachen, Chor Modus Novus, Anima Eterna/Jos van Immerseel
CATALOGUE NO: CCS 5593 DDD
When we think of Mendelssohn it is hardly in terms of opera. Yet he had composed no fewer than six dramatic works before reaching the age of 21, and spent the rest of his short life searching for the elusive libretto that would enable him to write an operatic masterpiece. He was to be disappointed, and his failure is our loss too, for Die Hochzeit des Camacho (Camacho’s Wedding) shows a virtuoso command of opera buffa style, with just occasional hints of more progressive influence (namely Weber’s Der Freischütz and Spohr’s Jessonda) – though in structure rather than dramatic colour.
The libretto, probably by Friedrich Voigt after Cervantes’s Don Quixote, draws neither inspired musical characterisation nor vibrant drama from Mendelssohn. But the music is full of elegant and graceful invention, always congenial to the ear, occasionally poignant too, as in the lament for Quiteria (admirably sung by Rosmarie Hofmann). The cast is generally strong, but the set’s main asset – and its advantage over the Bernhard Klee recording on Koch Schwann – is the use of period instruments, which, under Jos van Immerseel’s direction, bring both vivid colouring and an exquisite clarity to the orchestral writing. Barry Millington