- Djamileh, opéra-comique in 1 act
Bizet: Djamilehby Jacques Mercier, Mercier
As unpopular as any of Bizet's completed operas, "Djamileh" rarely sees the light of day (or the lights of the stage). Nevertheless, this one-act tale of a capricious master and the flavor-of-the-month slave who manages to win his heart contains some beautiful music -- in particular the exotic overture, the sumptuous trio between Haroun (master), Djamileh (slave), and Haroun's servant Splendiano, and the servants' choruses. The orchestration represents Bizet at his best. Anyone interested in checking out "Djamileh" now has two choices -- this 1999 RCA recording and a version on the Orfeo label from the late '80s. In the areas of sound quality and orchestral playing, this effort by Jacques Mercier and the Orchestre National d'Ile de France has the advantage, with crisp, warm orchestral sound and outstanding engineering. And it delivers well on the spoken dialogue, which is both entertaining and well integrated into the recording. But the Orfeo version, which starred Lucia Popp in the title role, has the clear upper hand where the singing is concerned, and for that reason it is preferable. François le Roux struggles with the high-lying baritone role of Splendiano, sometimes sounding uncomfortable. Jean-Luc Maurette's tenor has rough spots in it, and he doesn't quite find the sense of line and self-assuredness that would capture Haroun at his best. Marie-Ange Todorovitch is more successful as the heroine, delivering a compelling performance that benefits from her darker-hued mezzo soprano voice. In the end, this recording is a worthy representation of the opera, but the competition perhaps argues better for the quality of the piece as a whole.
- Release Date:
- Rca Victor Europe
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