- Psyché, opera, LWV 56
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CPO follows its stellar releases of Conradi's "Ariadne" and Lully's "Thésée" by the Boston Early Music Festival with an equally extraordinary performance of Lully's "Psyché." These are works that have had limited exposure and are known far better by reputation than by performances or recordings. What's revelatory about the recordings of the Lully operas is how exceptionally attractive the music is; it's amazing that works of this quality have been unheard for centuries, and their resurrection, particularly in performances as fine as these, is a cause for rejoicing for any opera lover eager to look beyond the standard repertoire. Lully's vocal writing, even his recitatives, is graceful and expressive, and the numerous ensembles in "Psyché" are marvels of charm and inventiveness. The variety and cleverness of his orchestration keeps the listener constantly engaged. Much credit goes to Paul O'Dette and Stephen Stubbs, who lead the Boston Early Music Festival Orchestra and Chorus, and to all the musicians who contributed to the realization of the score. The performances are elegant, but never stuffy, and they are bursting with energy and liveliness. It's remarkable to encounter a cast of such high quality and consistency; it's a real achievement for the directors to have assembled a cast of over 20 soloists who sing with beautifully pure, fresh, focused tone; the understanding and ability to master the idiom and complex system of middle Baroque French ornamentation and immaculate French pronunciation. They also bring strong, vivid characterizations to their roles, so the performance has real dramatic energy. CPO's sound is absolutely clean and beautifully balanced. Highly recommended.