Oh, Boy!
Marianne Crebassa (mezzo-soprano)
Mozarteum Orchestra Salzburg/Marc Minkowski
rec. 4-8 January 2016, Große Saal, Stiftung Mozarteum Salzburg, Austria
Full texts and English translations provided
ERATO 9029592762 [72.36]

Oh, Boy! might seem a strange title for this debut album from French mezzo-soprano Marianne Crebassa released on Erato. In fact the chosen arias are all ‘trouser’ or ‘breeches’ roles sung by women playing young male characters. Notable ‘trouser’ roles include Cherubino in Mozart’s Le nozze di Figaro; Siébel in Gounod’s Faust and Prince Charming in Massenet’s Cendrillon.

A new name to me, Béziers-born Crebassa has already sung in a number of European opera houses most notably Opéra de Paris, Berliner Staatsoper, Wiener Staatsoper and La Scala, also at the Salzburg Festival alongside Placido Domingo and Lyric Opera Chicago. “One of the most important voices of our time”: some praise indeed from the distinguished conductor Marc Minkowski.

For this collection Crebassa has chosen mainly Austro/German and French repertory with sixteen ‘trouser’ role arias from the pens of ten different composers. Six arias are by Mozart, two each from Gounod and Offenbach with a single aria from Chabrier, Hahn, Massenet, Gluck/Berlioz, Meyerbeer and Thomas. One senses that Crebassa has relished making this album and in the booklet notes Crebassa writes “these young boys drive you crazy but they are also enchanting”.

I’m delighted that Crebassa has cast her net wide and her selections don’t just include arias from well known operas such as Mozart’s Figaro, Offenbach’s Les Contes D’Hoffmann and Gounod’s Faust. Lesser know works chosen include Ambrose Thomas’s Psyché, Offenbach’s Fantasio and Hahn’s Mozart.

Striking clarity of tone and impressive coloratura of seeming ease, with razor sharp delivery, are features of Crebassa’s impressive voice. To avoid slightly monochrome shading ideally I wanted additional colour from her voice. Highlights include from Les Huguenots the Queen’s page Urbain’s aria ‘Nobles Seigneurs, salut!’ stunningly rendered by Crebassa and from Les Contes D’Hoffmann Nicklausse’s ‘Vois sous l’archet frémissant’ which has a delightful tender quality. Memorable too from Figaro is the aria ‘Voi che sapete’ with Cherubino declaringing how much love he has to give to women.

From the city of Mozart’s birth the Mozarteum Orchestra Salzburg under Marc Minkowski shines bright in this collection, especially in the six Mozart works; a composer it knows so well. The playing has style and polish with a striking unity and Minkowski paces everything with customary precision. Recorded in the excellent acoustic of the Große Saal, Stiftung Mozarteum Salzburg, the engineering team excel providing satisfying sound with a lovely balance between voice and orchestra. This album is a joy from start to finish, one I will play often.

Michael Cookson

Track details:
Christoph Willibald GLUCK (1714-1787)/Hector BERLIOZ (1803-1869)
1. Orphée et Eurydice: Orphée: Amour, viens rendre à mon âme [5.47]
Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791)
2. Lucio Silla: Cecilio: Pupille amate [4.15]
Giacomo MEYERBEER (1791-1864)
3. Les Huguenots: Urbain: Nobles Seigneurs, salut! [4.04]
Jacques OFFENBACH (1819-1880)
4. Les Contes D’Hoffmann: Nicklausse: Vois sous l’archet frémissant [3.56]
Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART
5. Lucio Silla: Cecilio: Il tenero momento [10.19]
6. Le Nozze di Figaro: Cherubino: Voi che sapete [2.42]
Ambroise THOMAS (1811-1896)
7. Psyché: Eros: Non, ne la suivons pas... Sommeil ami des adieux (Romance du sommeil) [4.22]
Charles GOUNOD (1818-1893)
8. Roméo et Juliette: Stephano: Depuis hier… je te cherche en vain [4.04]
Jules MASSENET (1842-1912)
9. Cendrillon: Le Prince Charmant: Allez, laissez moi...Coeur sans amour [4.30]
10. Fantasio: Fantasio: Voyez dans la nuit brune (Ballade à la lune) [4.16]
Charles GOUNOD
11. Faust: Siébel: Versez vos chagrins dans mon âme [3.17]
Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART
12. La finta Giardiniera: Ramiro: Va pure ad altri in braccio [3.22]
Emmanuel CHABRIER (1841-1894)
13. L'Etoile: Lazuli : O petite étoile! (Romance de l'Etoile) [4.01]
Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART
14. Le Nozze di Figaro: Cherubino: Non so più [2.51]
Reynaldo HAHN (1874-1947)
15. Mozart: Alors, adieu donc, mon amour, le destin nous sépare [4.22]
Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART
16. La Clemenza di Tito: Sesto: Parto, parto [6.25]

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