Mar 12, 2007

Comparing Juives

A little comparison between the 3 following versions of La Juive, the Halévy's opera I recently saw in Paris (here and there).

1) Gerd Albrecht, Vienna, January 1981 Live from the 26th HRE 362 (3 LP) / Legato Classics 224 (CD) Pirate from the 23rd Rachel: Ilona Tokody Eléazar : José Carreras Léopold : Chris Merritt Cardinal de Brogni: Cesare Siepi Princesse Eudoxie: Sona Ghazarian Ruggiero : Hans Helm Albert: Alfred Sramek Conductor : Gerd Albrecht Wiener Staatsoper chorus & orchestra 2) Marcello Viotti, New York MET, 2003 (live) Nov. 6, 10, 14, 20, Dec. 5, 9, 13 mat, 19 Pirate from the Dec.13 MET broadcast Rachel: Soile Isokoski Eléazar: Neil Shicoff Léopold: Eric Cutler / Jianyi Zhang Cardinal de Brogni: Ferruccio Furlanetto Princesse Eudoxie: Elizabeth Futral / Olga Makarina Conductor: Marcello Viotti MET chorus & orchestra 3) Daniel Oren, Paris Bastille, March 3 2007 (live) Feb. 20, 24, 28, March 3, 6, 10, 14, 18 mat, 20 Rachel: Anna Caterina Antonacci Éléazar: Neil Shicoff / Chris Merritt (3, 20 mars) Léopold: John Osborn / Colin Lee (3, 10, 14, 14,18 et 20 mars) Cardinal de Brogni: Robert Lloyd / Ferruccio Furlanetto (14, 18, 20 mars) Princesse Eudoxie: Annick Massis Ruggiero: André Heyboer Albert: Vincent Pavesi Chorus & orchestra of the Paris National Opera 1 ) Orchestration The Albrecht’s interpretation of Halevy’s opera is as bad as it gets; often so slow you wonder if he had the same score as every other conductor, sometimes just ok for one minute, then back to slow and boring. Daniel Oren offered a very good overall version, at times a bit off balance though. Marcello Viotti dared to cut the score even in the prelude (which is rather unconventional, to say the least) but offered the most coherent interpretation of those three (though the rating between him and Oren is pretty close). Viotti : 1 point. 2) Rachel All three artists sang pretty well, though Ilona Tokody’s diction in French is absolutely awful. Antonacci had some great moments but her voice seemed a bit forced at times, whereas Soile Isokoski offered an amazing performance from beginning to end. Viotti: 2 points 3) Eléazar The Merritt’s performance in Paris was a real disaster, and Carrerras had some ups and downs. Neil Shicoff sings a language very different from French but was clearly the most consistent artist in the MET’s 2003 version (it seems he is not that good in 2007). Viotti : 3 points 4) Léopold Chris Merritt’s 1981 performance has some true moments of greatness (although he has some problems singing something vaguely reminiscent of the French tongue); Colin Lee was average, Eric Cutler was very good. Viotti: 3 points Albrecht: 1 point 5) Cardinal de Brogni Robert Lloyd was a calamity, Ferruccio Furlanetto was good but not great; Cesare Siepi, although showing some signs of age and despite his poor diction, is still is one of the best bass opera has ever known (to my opinion). Nobody even comes close to his performance of “Si la rigueur” in the first act. Viotti: 3 points Albrecht: 2 points 6) Princesse Eudoxie Sona Ghazarian is a bit less than average, Elizabeth Futral gave one of the best performances I’ve heard from heard (and her French diction did strike me as much better than I had anticipated), Annick Massis was the Queen of the Night, one great memory for me for many years to come. No hesitation at all on this one. Viotti: 3 points Albrecht: 2 points Oren : 1 point That’s it settled then. The Met version is, to this day (I’m waiting for a delivery), my favourite interpretation of La Juive.

A little extract from the MET version, "Chrétien sacrilège" (act II)

Éléazar D'un chrétien sacrilège Et que l'enfer protège Je connais les projets! Désespoir! anathème Et que Dieu qu'il blasphême Le maudisse à jamais, Le maudisse à jamais! Léopold Parjure et sacrilège, Ah! le remords m'assiège, oui le remords m'assiège. Et c'est trop de forfaits! Désespoir! anathème! Le ciel que je blasphême Me maudit à jamais, Le ciel que je blasphême Me maudit à jamais! Rachel De ce coeur, de ce coeur sacrilège que l'enfer, oui, que l'enfer protège, quels sont donc les projets? Désespoir! anathème J'en jure par Dieu même, Je saurais ses projets, Je saurais ses secrets! La Juive’s discography.

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