Wednesday 8 May 2013

Cherubini - further thoughts

A number of interesting points have been raised as a result of my article about Cherubini. Perhaps the first thing that should be pointed out is that the premiere of Medee in 1797 comes just six years after the premieres of Mozart's final operas, La Clemenza di Tito and Die Zauberflote, that's a long distance to travel in just six years. One thing that correspondents have emphasized is that Cherubini's operas need to be performed with 'necessary thickness' in the orchestra. During Cherubini's day this would be done by having a substantial band (as many as eight to ten desks for each violin section, with big cello and bass sections to balance and sometimes double wind). This in turn raises the interesting question of the types of  voices needed. One that it is difficult to address in the present economic climate when huge period bands are rarely possible (how about Medee at the Proms?).

Elizabeth Connell's recent memorial service jogged my memory of a stunning concert performance with her in the title role, with the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment in the early 1990's I don't suppose that we might hope for a recording to surface? If, unlike me, you are comfortable with Medee in Italian with recitatives, then Callas 1957 studio recording of the opera with Tullio Serafin seems to be the most recommendable.

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