Monday 22 November 2010

Cherubini anniversary

On Saturday we went to see Cherubini's Medee given by Chelsea Opera Group. This year is the 250th anniversary of Cherubini's birth but people do not seem to be beating a path to his door. It is disappointing that no opera companies seem to be planning a full staging of this opera. The last time we saw it in London was, I think, the 1989 production at Covent Garden with Rosalind Plowright on good form but in a very poorly conceived production. Having heard Yvonne Howard's assumption of the title role for COG, we are just crying out for someone to snap her up and stage the work, Grange Park, Opera Holland Park, English Touring Opera, anyone?

Having been taken with the opera all over again I went looking for a recording. There only seems to be one solitary recording of the piece in French, on Newport Classics with Phyllis Treigle in the title role, released in 1997. And this does not seem to have made it into The Gramophone so I have no idea what it is like. There is also a live recording with Iano Tamar which evidently has rather poor sound.

So not only do we want a production, but we need a decent recording from a period band as well!

This neglect is perhaps not so surprising. Carmen apart, opera companies seem nervous of doing operas which require lots of French dialogue, even in France! Adrian Noble's new production of Carmen at the Opera Comique trimmed the dialogue down to the bone. And when we saw Medee at the Chatelet a few years ago, in a production from Toulouse, it was performed in Italian with the recitatives!

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