ADAM: Le Postillon de Lonjuneau
This is a handsome presentation with a 44-page booklet that contains program notes in Polish, English and German. Unfortunately there is no listing of tracks. Although Halka is given in the four-act version, the synopsis provided only into two parts. Principal characters are the young wealthy Janusz who at the beginning of act one is celebrating his upcoming marriage to the wealthy Zona. The party is at the Stolnik estate. A troubled young girl interrupts the festivities. This is Halka (Helen) who a few years ago fell in love with Janesz, who then disappeared. The two rekindle their passion, and the scene is now disturbed by appearance of Jontek. a young man from Halka's village who also is in love with her. This is a tragic story about a betrayed pregnant young woman who forgives her betrayer and then died. The music surely is pleasant and effective, and includes some Polish folk tunes. This performance by the leading Polish opera company Opery Nova, a respectful modern production directed by Natalia Babinska with sets by Diana Marszalek. We can be sure thus is a definitive performance. Excellent audio and video This is an unusual and important addition to the video catalog.
Adolphe Adam's lyric comic operetta Le Postillon de Lonjumeau was a great success at its premiere in 1836. This composer's music has been generally neglected with the exception of the ballet Giselle and his adaptation of the Christmas carol O Holy Night. This light-hearted operetta is about the life and loves of Chapelou, a coachman, and Madeliene, his innkeeper wife. The plot is preposterous, perhaps typical of a frothy French operetta. After Chapelou and Madeliene are married, he is whisked to the Paris Opera by Marquis Corcy where he a leading tenor for a decade. Madeleinne goes to Paris; her new name is Madame de la Tour. Chapelou falls in love with her not realizing he already is married to her. The high point of the operetta is the famous tenor aria Mes amis, écoutez l'histoire which ends with a high D, a challenge for most tenors. It has been recorded often including versions by major tenors. It is sung very well on this new recording by Michael Spyres who sounds much more comfortable in the regular tenor range. Sets and costumes by Emanuel Charles and Christian Lacroix are brilliant and effective. The chorus is particularly fine, and Sebastian Rouland brings out all of the score's humor. Video and audio are first-rate. The performance was recorded April 5 and 7, 2019 at the Opéra Comique in Paris. A delightful release in every way!
Several years ago this site praised a video of Massenet's Cendrillon featuring Joyce DiDonato (REVIEW). In that the famous recording with Fredericka Von Stade was discussed in detail, and it remains near definitive. This new video is a Glyndebourne production recorded June 30, 2019. This is the Fiona Shaw production with sets by Jon Bausor, imaginative costumes designed by icky Gillibrand. The cast is excellent, and this beautiful score remains a fairy0tale classic. John Wilson leads the performance, and he again shows that he is a mater of the baton. Video and audio are first-rate. this is strong competition for the DiDonato recording,but it does not replace it.
R.E.B. (August 2020)