Compositeur: Christoph Willibald von Gluck
Ditte Anderson (soprano);
Ann Hallenberg (mezzo);
Marie Lenormand (mezzo);
Magnus Staveland (tenor);
Chœur de chambre de Namur; Les Talens Lyriques
rec. live, 8-10 January 2006, Palais des Beaux-Arts, Brussels. DDD
© 2006 Ass. Les Sept Vies de Philémon
Notes and Editorial Reviews
Gluck drew upon some previously composed works for the commission, but much of the music will be new to modern listeners--and it is a delight, and delightfully performed. In the first opera we meet Aristeo, son of Apollo, who was in love with Eurydice and caused her death, whereupon the Dryads punished him by killing all of his bees. At the suggestion of his mother, Cyrene, he sacrifices several bulls to atone. It works--a new set of bees emerges from the bulls' entrails--and Aristeo, his mother, and his current love interest, Cydippe, are happy. In the second opera, the eponymous couple gives shelter to a disguised Jupiter; he rewards them with eternal life and makes them demigods. They're hardly Tristan or Otello, but it makes a nice entertainment, nevertheless.
No one knows this repertoire better than Christophe Rousset, and he leads his Talens Lyriques in sprightly performances, the orchestra crisp and the singers dramatically alert, even in the tepid recitatives. Coloratura soprano Ditte Andersen is the vocal standout as Cyrene in the first opera and Bauci in the second. In the latter she sings an aria, "Il mio pastor tu sei", with a very high tessitura--many high F-sharps--and she dispatches it all with ease. Ann Hallenberg lends her warm mezzo to the role of Aristeo and Marie Lenormand matches Andersen note for note and trill for trill in a duet as Filemone. In short, this is a thoroughly enjoyable set that may not change your life but will divert you in the best possible way.
--Robert Levine, ClassicsToday.com