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Giacomo Meyerbeer: Les Huguenots
Giacomo Meyerbeer, Ernst Marzendorfer, ORF Vienna Radio Symphony Orchestra
Giacomo Meyerbeer: Les Huguenots
Genre: Classical
  •  Track Listings (22) - Disc #1
  •  Track Listings (21) - Disc #2


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CD Reviews

A legendary recording restored to CD
madamemusico | Cincinnati, Ohio USA | 07/31/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Around 1974 I bought this "legendary" Gedda "Huguenots" on two LPs. The sound was clear but rather thin and compressed; a few moments impressed me, but by and large I was disappointed. But Myto's remastering of the great Act 2 duet with Queen Marguerite (Rita Shane) a few years ago had warm, solid sound, so when this complete version appeared I jumped on it.

I am happy to say that the recording sounds better than ever. The voices of the male singers in particular--Gedda, Diaz, Petkov and Farres--emerge as full as I remember hearing them in the opera house. As for the ladies: Enriqueta Tarres had a lovely voice and sang with wonderful excitement, but her top notes are a little "white"; mezzo Jeanette Scovotti had a very fluid technique and a pretty timbre, though she was a shade past her prime here; and Rita Shane, though possessing a somewhat hard, shrill-sounding voice, was a masterful technician who sings the murderous cabaletta "A ce mot tou s'anime" with startling panache, adding trills, cadenzas and high notes that Sutherland couldn't and wouldn't even try!

Another surprise in this reissue is extra music, roughly a half hour more than we had on the LP issue. This brings the recording within thirty minutes or so of being a truly complete "Huguenots." How I wish they had given the entire score! But, we can't turn back the clock, and since the dismal Richard Leech "Huguenots" on Erato about a decade ago, no one has dared record this fairly unpopular opera complete.

As for the music: this was the apotheosis of "bel canto." Combining the composition techniques of Spontini (build-up to choral scenes, extended duets) and Rossini (florid arias, catchy tunes), Meyerbeer here quite excelled himself in creating a work that was both musically interesting AND popular. With the exception of "Le Prophete" and "L'Africaine," it is virtually the only Meyerbeer opera that is still occasionally revived, and with good reason: it is his masterpiece. Yes, Schumannn and Wagner complained about it, but it was admired by talents as diverse as Berlioz, Verdi, Bizet and even Mussorgsky. There is one choral tune that sounds like a blueprint for the tavern scene in Offenbach's "Contes d'Hoffmann," and a vocal ensemble in Act 3 that sounds very Russian (possibly the influence of Glinka, who lived for a few years in Paris during this time). And then there are the lovely, highly original pieces that are Meyerbeer's very own, "Plus blanche," "Piff paff!", "Nobles seigneurs," "Ah! si j'etais coquette" and the magnificent Act 4 duet, "Tu m'aimes." Of this latter, there are only three truly great recordings, two in German and one in French. The German recordings are by Emmy Destinn and Karl Jorn (1912), Margarethe Teschemacher and Marcel Wittrisch (1932). This is the great version in French. Throughout the performance, Gedda is absolutely inspired, singing his high notes in a mixture of head and chest voice that makes them "ring" without sounding tight or dry, and phrasing in that beautiful, conversational style that he brought to French music. I rank this alongside his "Damnation du Faust" with Janet Baker and the abridged version of "Les Troyens" as being his finest opera recordings of all time."
This is it!
Nancy Eckert | Bellefontaine, OH USA | 05/16/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)

"There may have been better performances but, if so, they were not recorded, nor remastered. If one wants to have the ultimate recording (in my opinion), one need look no further.

I crave to hear opera in the original language (this is not going to be a dissertation on who wrote what, when and why). Moreover, I crave to hear those who can do a good job of whatever is that language. Gedda is "echt" in everything he does, and the rest of the cast is excellent.

For me, this is a must-have recording - of course, if one doesn't like Meyerbeer in particular or French opera (although there are those works that are more French), pass on this.

I have a friend (yes, just one), who cannot abide Protestant music, so if you have this problem, you'll have a difficult time listening to this."
A Must Have!
Scott Evans | San Jose, CA USA | 10/29/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)

"If only for the opportunity to hear Gedda sing some of the most beautiful arias from his French repetoire, you must buy this CD!"