Magazine article Opera Canada

Soiree Francaise: Arias and Duets by Bizet, Massenet, Lalo, Gounod, Thomas, Donizetti, Auber, Paer, Mehul and Rossini

Magazine article Opera Canada

Soiree Francaise: Arias and Duets by Bizet, Massenet, Lalo, Gounod, Thomas, Donizetti, Auber, Paer, Mehul and Rossini

Article excerpt

MICHAEL SCHADE, TENOR, AND RUSSELL BRAUN, baritone; Canadian Opera Company Orchestra, Richard Bradshaw, conductor. CBC Records SMCD 5174. *****

THIS IS A SHINING JOINT RECITAL BY TWO OF Canada's most exhilarating young opera stars. Michael Schade and Russell Braun share an expert commonality of musicianship, reflected in secure vocal techniques, a cultivated approach to line and phrasing, as well as astute stylistic understanding. These are also two very beautiful voices: Schade's refined, elegant tenor and Braun's warm, rounded baritone. This CD's imaginatively chosen repertoire, drawn almost entirely from 19th-century opera written in French, ideally suits these two singers' essentially soft-grained, lyric timbers and moderate temperaments. Only the Rossini duet, from Moise et Pharaon, sounds underdone; it needs a more forward attack than these two smoothies can provide.

Each singer is rewarded with a pair of standards from French opera. Schade sings with exquisite purity and tenderness in "La Reve" from Massenet's Manon and "Vainement ma bien aimee" from Lalo's Le Roi d'Ys. And Braun brings both passion and allure to "Leonor, viens" from Donizetti's La Favorite and the drinking song from Thomas's Hamlet. These are fresh and spontaneous readings of familiar arias.

But the CD also provides some real and quite remarkable rarities. Schade gets two plums and finds them delicious. In a haunting aria from Thomas's Le Songe d'une nuit d'ete (which is not a setting of A Midsummer Night's Dream), the tenor's persona is Shakespeare himself, wandering through the woods and receiving visions of Queen Elizabeth I. …

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