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A new recording of Gounod’s La Colombe comes from the ever-reliable Opera Rara. A rarity from 1860, it should appeal to admirers of Gounod, who, having thrilled to Faust and Roméo et Juliette, have perhaps been moved to investigate the charms of Mireille. If you haven’t thrilled to Faust, on the other hand, then this is probably not for you. It is also likely to attract fans of opéra-comique, so if Boieldieu, Auber and Adam are to your taste then this piece continues the tradition. It’s a simple story concerning the titular dove, a gifted bird, and the adoration of its owner, Horace, for Sylvie, who in turn wants possession of the pet to get a social leg-up. The plot capers along until the loving but hungry couple eat the dove, which transpires to be a rival’s parrot. It’s all very jolly, unless you’re the unfortunate parrot in which case it’s deeply tragic. The music is pretty, and very well-played by the Hallé under Mark Elder, who conjures some sensitive phrasing from his players; but it is very slight indeed, and two CDs seems overkill (though it wouldn’t quite fit onto one at eighty minutes; a filler would have been welcome). Erin Morley flutes sweetly and deftly as Sylvie and Javier Camarena’s Horace is equally charming, his tenor just the right weight for the role. Michèle Losier and Laurent Naouri help the plot along with idiomatic performances. The dialogue is deftly handled, but it’s all a bit arch.

Francis Muzzu Read the full review on Agora Classica


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