Recordings of La
Juive don’t exactly line the shelves
of record shops, so it is good to have
this performance, even if it is in German.
Opera lovers will probably know La
Juive from Éléazar’s
Act 4 aria, ‘Rachel, quand du Seigneur’
(or as here, ‘Recha, als Gott dich einst’).
But there is much more than just that
to this opera, as this set amply demonstrates.
directed a perfectly acceptable Aida
on WLCD0051 (again in German: see review).
Here he shows if anything more affinity
to the Italianised French world of Jacques
Halévy. He persuades his orchestra
- again, the Hessian Radio band - to
a dedicated if sometimes slightly scrappy
account of the score. The Overture exemplifies
all of this, from its cheeky, staccato
opening chords through the affectionate
slow section to the less-than-perfect
ensemble dramatic parts. The close of
Act 1 could sparkle more, and be more
charming, too; perhaps this is the Germanic
temperament being overlaid on an essentially
non-Germanic musical surface.
Set in 1414, the story
of La Juive (‘The Jewess’) has
almost certainly militated against frequent
airings, with its concentration on the
animosity between Judaism and Christianity.
In the city of Constance, the Jews are
the oppressed and persecuted. The inter-religious
union of Rachel and Leopold (who happens
also to be Eudoxie’s husband) is therefore
more than a no-no.
A shame as this is
young man’s music; Halévy was
only 36 when the work was first produced.
There seems to be some Meyerbeer in
the mix, but also there seem to be elements
that relate to Italian rather than French
takes the role of Rachel, the jewess
of the opera’s title. She can be strong
as required (even imperious in Act 4)
and in Act 3 (cut, I believe) she reveals
her determined side. Her Romance (‘Il
va venir’, or as here, ‘Er kommt zurück’,
embedded in CD1 track 14) is excellent;
great hunting horns in the orchestra,
too. Although she is no Varnay (See
the Archipel collection at http://www.musicweb-international.com/classrev/2005/Apr05/Varnay_arpcd0221.htm
) within the context of this performance,
was a part that became associated with
Caruso. Joachim Sattler is no Caruso.
Sattler’s voice is not huge but is in
general strong enough; note the ‘in
general’ – alas there are exceptions.
His ‘Rachel, quand du Seigneur’ is lyrical,
ardent and in its later stages turbulent.
He rises to its challenges nicely. The
chorus is nicely distanced here, too.
Maria-Meta Kopp, is
a name completely new to me; you’d remember
it, wouldn’t you? She is a pure-toned
Eudoxie. It is important to note that
the main roles include two sopranos
(Rachel and Eudoxie) and two tenors
(Éléazar and Léopold)
and that it is important that they are
sufficiently differentiated. On the
present recording the Rachel/Eudoxie
coupling is particularly successful,
the purity of Kopp easily distinguishable
from Schlüter (try Act 4); Éléazar
and Léopold less so.
Otto von Rohr is Cardinal
Brogni. And very big and over-vibratoed
he is, too; his melismatic work acceptable
but no more. His strength is that he
is a real bass, magnificently strong
right down below and he can bring real
authority to his statements when required.
He impressed more as Heinrich in the
Jochum Lohengrin recorded the year after
The entire cast is
not consistent – of the smaller parts
the Crier, Werner Schmidt, is very obviously
nervous, for example. Ruggiero (Rolf
Heide) is acceptable but certainly not
world-class. Still, with Schröder
a reliable guide one should not sniff
at the chance of hearing this opera.
Absence of libretto, translations and
any booklet notes is of course regrettable,
but not absolutely disastrous. The libretto
is after all available free on the internet