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Bizet’s Les pêcheurs de perles also crops up in a less familiar version, as we are used to hearing music that was nipped and tucked many times for about 30 years following the 1863 premiere. The original autograph score has disappeared into a private collection, so the reconstructed version (by Hugh Macdonald, 2014) is as good as it’s going to get for now. Consequently, opera’s prime example of premature ejaculation, the famous duet for tenor and baritone (after which many audiences sadly realise the peak has already been reached early in the evening), veers offmidstream in a completely unexpected direction. This recording is live, from concerts in Lille last year, and is hugely idiomatic, with French soloists, conductor, orchestra and chorus. Alexandre Bloch obviously enjoys Bizet’s exotic colours and keeps very tight control of his excellent forces, things never become blowsy. Julie Fuchs is a delicious Leïla, with a pure, almost crystalline soprano, and deft passagework. Florian Sempey has good weight and tone of voice for Zurga. Perhaps best of all is Cyrille Dubois as Nadir, with his fabulous voix mixte and ability to caress the line, recalling a type of French tenor that has hardly flourished in abundance since the late Alain Vanzo.

Francis Muzzu Read the full review on Agora Classica

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