Sunday 31 December 2006

Christmas Presents

The combination of a Roberto Alagna recital disc to be reviewed and a concert performance of Halevy's La Juive, both of which included the well known aria Rachel, quand au Seigneur, meant that I went scurrying off to try to get a complete performance of the opera for D.'s Christmas present. Not surprisingly, the best recording, with June Anderson, Jose Carreras and Julia Varady, did not seem to be available. This sent me scurrying toThe Clasical CD Exchange, one of the sites which sell second hand CD's. There, by virtue of the vagaries of search engines, I managed to acquire not only the relevant recording of La Juive but also Ben Heppner's recital of French opera arias (which includes Rachel, quand au Seigneur). Both are wonderful; the complete opera is notable for the fact that Carreras over-dubbed his part after the recording, because of his problems with Leukemia, but you would never notice.

The Heppner is a marvel because so few tenors nowadays can sing the French parts with such a feeling of focus in the voice and a fine sense of line. Heppner is, perhaps, not the most interesting singer in the world, but his tone and line are incomparable when compared to many contemporaries. He is not Georges Thill, but in this barren modern age, he comes decently close.

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