Thanks to Radio Classique, who broadcasted Mireille by Charles Gounod last Sunday evening (Freni, Vanzo, Plasson 1988 version), I've started listening again to Gounod's three masterpieces: Faust (1859), Mireille (1864) and Roméo & Juliette (1867), a thing I had not done in quite a long time now.
Two things I love in Gounod's music: the rhythm and the melodies.
A few examples from YouTube; From Faust, "Avant de quitter ces lieux" (Valentin aria) sung by Leonard Warren, "Quel trouble inconnu me pénètre" (Faust) by Nicolai Gedda and "Salut demeure chaste et pure" (Faust) by Alagna (2004). Unfortunately, I couldn't find any performance of "De l'enfer qui vient émousser nos armes", an aria (chorus & Valentin) that has a very special meaning for me. From Roméo & Juliette, "Ah lève toi Soleil" (Roméo) also sung by Alagna (1994). I couldn't find anything from Mireille, nevertheless I recommand "Voici la saison mignonne" (Act 2, disc 1 track 9 in the EMI version by Plasson).
The YouTube extracts are also a good opportunity to compare Alagna's singing from 1994 & 2004, and of course realize in dispair how good he was and how mediocre he's becoming. It's a slippery slope Roberto, a very slippery slope...
My favorite recordings of Gounod:
Faust EMI Classics, 1959 version Conducted by André Cluytens Faust: Nicolai Gedda Marguerite: Victoria De Los Angeles Méphistophélès: Boris Christoff Valentin: Ernest Blanc
Roméo et Juliette EMI Classics, 1998 version Conducted by Michel Plasson Roméo: Roberto Alagna Juliette: Angela Gheorghiu Frère Laurent: José Van Dam
Mireille EMI Classics, 1988 version (I never heard any other recording) Conducted by Michel Plasson Mireille: Mirella Freni Vincent: Alain Vanzo Ourrias: José Van Dam