you have an earlier Melba CD by Deborah Riedel conducted
by Richard Bonynge (“The Power of Love” Melba 301082
you will probably rush to add this to your collection.
disc was of arias from 19th
operas by such composers as Balfe, Wallace and Sullivan.
Not only were they sung and played with total conviction
but their presentation added much to the listener’s enjoyment.
As a whole the disc whetted the appetite to hear complete
such operas as “Lurline” and “Ivanhoe”. It is interesting
to note that there is now a good chance that both will
be recorded in the near future, as “The Maid of Artois” has
been, excerpts from which were also on that disc. Perhaps
the same may apply to the lesser known works on the present
may think from its title that it is of more familiar fare,
but do not be misled. Once past the first few tracks the
music tends towards the less well known, and indeed for
me at least to the completely unknown in terms of both
the music and the composers represented - Crescentini,
Zingarelli and Portugallo in particular. Whether all of
the arias are really undiscovered treasures is a matter
of opinion, but they are certainly unfailingly pleasing
to hear, varied and well performed. Riedel may not be the
most varied or imaginative of singers but she is always
efficient in putting the music’s essence across and never
gets in the way of its character. The programme includes
examples of several contrasting styles of music, and it
is to the performers’ credit that these are so clearly
defined. I especially enjoyed the contrast between the “pleasure
gardens” style of several of the English pieces, the more
elaborate vocal lines of the later Italian items, and the
elegantly popular style of the two French arias. Once again,
not only is this music enjoyable in itself but it encourages
the listener to seek out more in a similar vein.
is helped by the excellent presentation, with relatively
lengthy and helpful introductions to each composer, texts
with English translations where necessary, and interesting
notes about the performers, including a full list of the
orchestra. Overall this is second only to the excellent
presentation we have come to expect from Opera Rara. Together
they put most other companies to shame.
to this disc has given me great pleasure. Perhaps not the
greatest music I have come across but a delightful and
profitable way to add to your knowledge of the opera and
song of this period.