Picker: Thérèse Raquin

Our rating 
4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

COMPOSERS: Picker
LABELS: Chandos
WORKS: Thérèse Raquin
PERFORMER: Sara Fulgoni, Diana Soviero, Gordon Gietz, Richard Bernstein, Sheryl Woods; Dallas Opera Orchestra/Graeme Jenkins
CATALOGUE NO: CHAN 9659(2)
The Dallas Opera premiered Tobias Picker’s operatic treatment of Zola’s classic of literary realism last November. This recording, in clear though not fussy sound, was made live during four performances of the initial run.

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A strong cast was assembled to give life to Zola’s depressing characters. British mezzo Sara Fulgoni sounds fully engaged as the dissatisfied anti-heroine, who colludes with her animalistic lover Laurent (the consistently impressive Richard Bernstein) to murder her feeble husband Camille (pleasingly sung by Gordon Gietz) and then has to live with the consequences. Diana Soviero presents a powerful portrait of Camille’s doting mother, though we have to imagine her later in the score after she is silenced by a stroke.

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It’s a nasty, violent story, brilliantly told by Zola, though Gene Scheer’s libretto offers only a rather sketchy reduction. Tobias Picker’s score is a competent piece of work and manages some effective atmosphere, but the idioms he employs tend to recall other composers without clearly establishing an identity of Picker’s own. In the final analysis the music does not take control of the subject, as it has to do. Dallas’s music director, Graeme Jenkins, conducts incisively. George Hall