University of Hartford "H" Magazine - Winter 2019

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Sunday Afternoon at the Opera - Cherubini: Les Abenc├ęrages

06/11/2023 1:00 pm
06/11/2023 4:30 pm

 

Sunday Afternoon at the Opera host Keith Brown writes:

So much of the history of French opera has been presented to the public on disc courtesy of the Palazzetto Bru Zane record label. The latest in the Bru Zane series of CD releases in 2022 is Cherubini's Les Abencérages (1813). Like Lully before him, Luigi Cherubini (1760-1842) was Italian by birth. He loomed large in the musical life of Paris for half a century. He was appointed director of the Paris Conservatoire. Beethoven and Berlioz admired his compositions. His lyric tragedy, Médée (1797) or Medea, was heard on this program in an Italian language translation of its libretto on Sunday, February 3, 1985 (London LPs/ Gardelli/Accademia di Santa Cecilia, Rome). Cherubini's heroic "rescue opera", Lodoïska (1791), established an operatic subgenre that would include, as its best known example, Beethoven's Fidelio. The world premiere recording of Lodoïska I featured on three occasions: Sundays in 1992, 2006, and 2016 (Sony Classical CDs/ Muti/La Scala, Milan).

The world premiere recording of Les Abencérages ou L'étendard de Grenade was made in Budapest in the Béla Bartók Concert Hall with the resources of the period instrument Orfeo Orchestra and the Purcell Choir, Györgyi Váshegyi conducting. The operatic proceedings are played out in 15th century Moorish Spain. In the fabulous Alhambra Palace in Granada there is a storied "Hall of the Abencerrages," referring to the historic Muslim clan who ruled over the Iberian peninsula for generations. In Cherubini's opera there's a chivalric love interest and a noble knight bearing a celebrated banner.