Sunday, 12 July 2009

280. Giacomo Meyerbeer - Les Huguenots (1836)


Title: Les Huguenots
Performers: Joan Sutherland
Conductor: Richard Bonynge
Year: 1969
Length: 4 hours


Meyerbeer brings us one of the most musically interesting operas for a while on this list. The fact that he was filthy rich and therefore able to do what he wanted might factor heavily into this.

Gone are the populisms of Donizetti and Bellini, who, talented as they were, were catering for a very specific audience. Meyerbeer on the other hand is a freer spirit and the orchestration is often surprising.

Where it all falls flat is in the plot which is supremely uninteresting and cliched. Again this is a opera best heard and not seen, in that respect this recording is pretty great and highly recommended.

Final Grade



From Wikipedia:

Following five years after Meyebeer's own Robert le diable and a year after Fromental Halévy's La Juive, Les Huguenots consolidated the genre of Grand Opera, in which the Paris Opéra would specialise for the next generation, and which became a major box-office attraction for opera houses all over the world.

Hector Berlioz's contemporary account is full of praise: with 'Meyerbeer in command at the first desk [of violins] [...] from beginning to end I found [the orchestral playing] superb in its beauty and refinement [...] The richness of texture in the Pré-aux-Clercs scene [act III] [...] was extraordinary, yet the ear could follow it with such ease that every strand in the composer's complex thought was continually apparent - a marvel of dramatic counterpoint'.


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