Meyerbeer’s opera Dinah performed by the Chorus & Orchestra of Deutsche Oper

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4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

COMPOSERS: Meyerbeer
LABELS: CPO
ALBUM TITLE: Meyerbeer
WORKS: Dinorah
PERFORMER: Patrizia Ciofi, Etienne Dupuis, Philippe Talbot, Seth Carico, Erste Schaferin, Gideon Poppe; Chorus & Orchestra of Deutsche Oper, Berlin/Enrique Mazzola
CATALOGUE NO: CPO 555 014-2

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Premiered at the Opéra-Comique in Paris in 1859, Meyerbeer’s opera became known as Dinorah after its heroine, but was originally entitled Le Pardon de Ploërmel, referring to a religious festival in a Breton village whose re-enactment comprises the final scene. It enjoyed an international career until changing fashions pushed it out of the way around the time of the First World War. 

With a semi-innocent, semi-knowing plot featuring hidden treasure and a central character who spends almost the entire action out of her mind due to her fiancé having abandoned her, keeping company with a goat instead, it’s unlikely to make a full-scale comeback anytime soon. But Meyerbeer’s varied score is full of good things; his sheer orchestral know-how and general savoir faire complement a distinctive melodic gift and a strong feeling for musical character. The result is genuinely attractive.

The composer revised the piece for different theatres. Here it is heard in a new critical edition of its original version, with spoken dialogue, vividly delivered in this recording made at live performances at the Berlin Philharmonie in 2014.

Though her tone may not be the clearest around, Patrizia Ciofi gets around all the notes – no mean feat given that Dinorah’s madness is expressed in lashings of coloratura. Etienne Dupuis shines as her bullish boyfriend Hoël, who deserts her to seek a long-lost but accursed treasure. Philippe Talbot relishes the comic role of the foolish Corentin, whom Hoël seeks to involve in his nefarious schemes. Enrique Mazzola conducts Deutsche Oper forces with a combination of flair and precision.

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George Hall