What I pleasant surprise I received when I arrived at my bachelorette
pad from a long tiring day at the office. Some nice FedEx man had left a
French bon bon on my doorstep: the new EMI LAKME w/Dessay!!!!!
If you're a fan of French opera or Dessay, RUN out to get this one.
To my ears, Dessay has matured & improved since the French aria album [I
think the Bell Song is an improvement]. I think her middle range has
improved, or is it just that the complete role of Lakme shows it off a
little more than coloratura extracts did??? I have read some critics
[Ethan Mordden] who say that Lakme is really written for a lyric soprano
and that the most famous piece, "the Bell Song" is an abberation. But,
since that aria is so popular, coloraturas take on the role when it just
doesn't "fit" right. This may be true. BUT LAKME is just more FUN w/a
coloratura!!! And, I prefer Dessay over Mado Robin b/c Dessay's tone is
not as dulling on the ears as Robin's. I never really liked Sutherland
in this role. Mesple probably the RIGHT soprano for this role but
doesn't really excite me like Dessay. [what Gruberova could have done to
this role in her heyday....]. Long-winded am I, but I think Dessay is
The supporting cast appears to be all native French speakers. This
recording originates from Toulouse. Of note, Delphine Haidan's Mallika
blends well with Dessay in the duet. And, one of the few male singers I
go gah-gah over, Jose van Dam, is Nilakantha. He's very IMposing
Plasson's conducting of the work is another highlight of the set. IMHO,
all of his recordings of French opera are definitive. [although
Monteaux's MANON gives his a run for the francs]. Plasson conducts with
a light touch but doesn't make the opera sound "un-important". Does it
take a Frenchman to conduct French opera???? I hate chauvanism but that
seems to be the case today.
The one disappointment, for me, is the Gerald of Gregory Kunde. BUT who
goes to Lakme to hear the Gerald??? Yet, his voice doesn't seem as free
and easy ...."mellifluous"...as my favorite tenors, Leopold Simoneau or
Henri Legay. Of course, who today can touch these gods??? I don't know
anything about Kunde though??? Is he French????
One last thing. EMI has presented their new LAKME in a very pretty
package. I'm a "package person" [infer what you will]. I want to know
when I spend $30, $40 or $50 bucks on an opera set, that I'm getting
something IMPORTANT...that I'm getting an OPERA set. No Double-Deccas
for me [of course, the price is right]. Sometimes when I shell out the
big bucks for opera on CD, I don't feel like I'm buying something
"special". Oh well, I live in Dallas, where appearance is everything.
Anyway, EMI has done a great job with the cover. Dessay's shed the grad
student look for gold eyeshadow & a gold sheath. The packaging looks
classy & I like that.
SO, I give the new LAKME a score of 5 Quiche [on a scale of 1 to 5
Quiche]. Go get this recording tonight, crawl into bed, listen to it &
stuff yourself with pastries!
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