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Meyerbeer wasn’t a composer who seemed overly interested in offering his characters moments of great soul-searching. They tend to be placed against momentous events, to which they react or by which they are swept along until they glug beneath the waves. As a young singer, Diana Damrau performed some of the composer’s works and has long cherished a desire to investigate and record more. We can be grateful, as her new disc, Grand Opera, is a valuable addition to the Meyerbeer revival we are currently enjoying. Damrau tackles not just the old coloratura war-horses from Les Huguenots and Le Pardon de Ploërmel (Dinorah), but also delves into the obscurities of an early German work, Alimelek, as well as Ein Feldlager in Schlesien (much of which was reworked into L’étoile du nord), both recorded for the first time. Damrau is caught at an ideal time in her career. She still has the flexibility to attack the florid pieces with gusto, but also the heftto fill out the arching phrases of an aria such as ‘Robert, toi que j’aime’ (Robert le diable). Occasionally she becomes a little shrill, but there is sweetness to compensate. During 50 years of composing for Italian, German and French texts, Meyerbeer is shown to be hugely inventive and skillful, apart from his oft-lumbering key changes. Emmanuel Villaume conducts with elegance, helping his soprano to extract maximum effect from each aria.

Francis Muzzu Read the full review on Agora Classica


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