Magazine article Opera Canada

Le Deserteur

Magazine article Opera Canada

Le Deserteur

Article excerpt



Naxos: 8.660263-64

This intriguing new release makes a strong case for the rehabilitation of French composer Pierre-Alexandre Monsigny (1729-1817). Although this performance of his 1769 "drama in three acts" is somewhat polite vocally, the score itself is well constructed and tuneful. It's also one that Hector Berlioz held in high regard. Writing about Le deserteur in the Journal des Debats in 1843, he said, "I believe indeed that the feeling for dramatic truth and the expression of passions and characters have not been carried further in any musical composition for the stage." Indeed, one can hear anticipations of Berlioz's own music in Monsigny's recitativo obligate, "Infidele, que t'ai-je fait?"


The libretto is a convoluted and silly affair. A Duchess (for unexplained reasons) plays a practical joke on a young soldier, Alexis, who is led to believe that his betrothed, Louise, is about to marry another man during his absence. In despair and wishing to end his life, Alexis admits, falsely, to being an army deserter and is imprisoned. …

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