WORKS: L’enfant et les sortilèges; Shéhérazade; Shéhérazade – Ouverture de féerie
PERFORMER: Colette Alliot-Lugaz, Catherine Dubosc, Marie-Françoise Lefort, Odette Beaupré; Montreal SO & Chorus/Charles Dutoit
CATALOGUE NO: 440 333-2 DDD
A naughty child is terrified by the coming-to-life of furniture and of Mr Arithmetic, and threatened by the wild creatures of the garden – until he bandages the wound of one of them and is returned, contrite, to his Maman. I confess I would sacrifice any three Puccini shockers for this 45-minute work, especially in such an exquisite performance. An ideal casting (Colette Alliot-Lugaz as the Child, Marie-Françoise Lefort dazzling in the coloratura roles of Fire and Nightingale) is supported by the most sensitive instrumental detail, from high Swanee whistle to solo double bass.
As a double bonus to the opera, Dutoit and his Paris/Montreal performers give us not only Ravel’s well-known Shéhérazade song cycle but the almost unknown orchestral work of that title dating from four years earlier (1899) when the composer was but 24. It was in fact the overture to an opera destined never to be written: a single hearing of the piece cannot be grudged, but more would be an indulgence. Full texts and translations are provided of the opera and the song cycle, in which the clear-voiced Catherine Dubosc is the accomplished soprano soloist. Arthur Jacobs