LABELS: Marco Polo
PERFORMER: Majella Cullagh, Lynda Lee, Paul Charles Clarke, Ian Caddy, Damien Smith; RTE Philharmonic Choir & Concert Orchestra/Proinnsías Ó Duinn
CATALOGUE NO: 8.223406/7
William Wallace’s landmark English opera triumphed at Drury Lane in 1845 and remained a hit for almost a century. If you ever need songs from the shows in a hurry, voilà! – ‘Those sparkling eyes’, ‘Pretty Gitana’, ‘Alas, those chimes’, ‘Sainted Mother’, ‘Scenes that are brightest’.
Forget the asinine plot and revel in the fun, abandon and unashamed sentiment of Maritana. The overture confirms Wallace’s pre-Verdian mettle; the RTE Concert Orchestra (one brass fluff aside) is this set’s true hero; and Majella Cullagh’s soaring coloratura gypsy girl triumphs. Her soldier beau, Don Caesar (Clarke), easily passes muster. Quentin Hayes (King of Spain) trips off a charming aria, and might have brought a blacker firmness to the villain (Caddy). The chorus flourishes, especially in the hubbub that abounds. The climaxes pack punch. This recitative-free RTE version may ultimately be bettered, but it’ll do nicely for now. Roderic Dunnett