Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Meyerbeer's Rarity Gets a First-Rate Airing

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Meyerbeer's Rarity Gets a First-Rate Airing

Article excerpt

Byline: BARRY MILLINGTON

classical

Margherita d'Anjou Royal Festival Hall

"UNACCOUNTABLY neglected" was the riskily question-begging description of Meyerbeer's Margherita d'Anjou, which successfully drew a large, inquisitive audience to the Festival Hall on Saturday night. First performed in 1820, Margherita d'Anjou is a "melodrama semiserio" from Meyerbeer's Italian years, the period before he became the reigning monarch of the Paris Opera.

A great success in its time - though less so than the four supreme grand operas of later years - Margherita d'Anjou is indeed worthy of exhumation. It may not consistently achieve the heights of, say, Les Too often such neglected operas have to be evaluated from third-rate performances, or worse, as commercial considerations generally militate against professionally mounted operations. That we were able to hear Margherita d'Anjou in a first-rate performance was due to the recent collaboration between the LPO and Opera Rara, the specialist record label. A recording made in conjunction with the performance will be released next September.

Meyerbeer's operas of this period often seem to be emulating those of Rossini, though closer inspection proves that Margherita d'Anjou, at least, transcends the model. His treatment of ensemble forms is already individual and there are signs of the colourful orchestration that was to become a trademark.

This strongly cast performance was led by Annick Massis in the title role, dialoguing adroitly with leader Pieter Schoeman's violin solo in her big second-act aria. As Isaura, the mezzo Patricia Bardon also took full advantage of her show stopper, right at the end of the work, while Bruce Ford negotiated the high-lying tessitura of the role of the Duke of Lavarenne with customary aplomb.

CLASSICAL "UNACCOUNTABLY neglected" was the riskily question-begging description of Meyerbeer's Margherita d'Anjou, which successfully drew a large, inquisitive audience to the Festival Hall on Saturday night. …

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