WORKS: Ernani (sung in English)
PERFORMER: Julian Gavin, Susan Patterson, Alan Opie, Peter Rose; English National Opera Chorus & Orchestra/David Parry
CATALOGUE NO: CHAN 3052(2)
This new account of Verdi’s high-flown melodrama conveys well the passionate sincerity of its male characters as they try to outdo one another in sticking to the letter of the Spanish code of honour. Its basis is the highly successful ENO production of May of last year, subsequently transferred to the studio with one important cast change: Sandra Ford gives way to the American soprano Susan Patterson, who proves a feisty Elvira, spirited and accomplished in delivery. Julian Gavin’s Ernani is a shade lightweight for this quintessentially Italianate role, but he moves around the notes gracefully and there’s a healthy ring to his top register. A few aspirates apart, Peter Rose is near ideal as the aged grandee Silva, while Alan Opie is on tremendous form as Carlo, musicianly to a degree and wedding notes to text with complete success.
David Parry’s conducting could do with a touch more flexibility, but he offers plenty of energy and both orchestra and chorus support him well. The English translation has its awkward moments but gets the narrative over clearly. The sound is rich and mellow, revealing the score’s varied colours and textures to good effect. George Hall