Reviews and occasional notes on classical music

Reviews and occasional notes on classical music

"Music, both vocall and instrumental, so good, so delectable, so rare, so admirable, so super excellent, that it did even ravish and stupifie all those strangers that never heard the like." - Thomas Coryat, after hearing 3 hours of music at the Scuola di San Rocco in Venice, 1608.

Monday, October 31, 2016

Worth the wait

The Washington DC-based Opera Lafayette hits a home run* with this marvellous world première disc from Naxos  (released November 11, 2016) of this opéra bouffon by André-Ernest-Modeste Grétry. Written in the tradition of Jean-Jacques Rousseau's opéra comique Le devin du village of 1852, L’épreuve villageoise (1784) is a step above that seminal work both musically and dramatically. This little (54 minute) two-act work is the 18th century equivalent of the best TV sitcoms: tightly constructed with clear emotional arcs and lots of laughs.

Opera Lafayette's production is superb. The original instrument orchestra plays stylishly, with just the right touches of rusticity and grace, under the direction of Ryan Brown. The smaller parts are very well sung, but the star of the show is the Belgian soprano Sophie Tucker. Listen to her rendition of "Denise's Air":

It's hard to believe that such a melodic, happy, short work that was very popular on both sides of the Atlantic in its day should have to wait more than 200 years to be heard. It was worth the wait.*

* Go Cubs!
** Go Cubs! It'll be worth the wait :)

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