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Swansong

Duration:
1 hour
First broadcast:
Friday 03 May 2013

The passage of time has not been kind to Giacomo Meyerbeer. The most successful opera composer of his day, whose transformation of the medium helped to set the stage for Wagner, Verdi, Mussorgsky and a host of others, his work is now seldom performed. All this week, Donald Macleod explores the life and rediscovers the work of this king of Grand Opera, in conversation with one of the composer's leading advocates, Robert Letellier.

The final programme of the week is devoted to Meyerbeer's last two music dramas: Dinorah, a gentle Breton love story intertwined with a yarn about a hunt for cursed treasure; and L'Africaine - The African Woman - an operatic epic conjuring up imagined, even fantastical events in the life of the Portuguese explorer Vasco da Gama. Meyerbeer died the day after he finished his fair copy of the full score, leaving instructions that the work was to remain unstaged should he not be around to oversee its production; his wishes were ignored, and L'Africaine took to the stage a year later, in a practical performing edition by the Belgian composer and musicologist, François-Joseph Fétis.

Dinorah (1859) - Act 2 scene 1 ('Qu'il est bon')
Geoffrey Mitchell Choir
Philharmonia Orchestra
James Judd (conductor)
OPERA RARA ORC5 CD 2 tk 1

Dinorah (1859) - Act 2 scenes 3-6
Deborah Cook (Dinorah)
Christian du Plessis (Hoël)
Alexander Oliver (Corentin)
Philharmonia Orchestra
James Judd (conductor)
OPERA RARA ORC5 CD 2 tks 3-7

Dinorah (1859) - Act 2 scenes 7 (conclusion)-8
Deborah Cook (Dinorah)
Christian du Plessis (Hoël)
Alexander Oliver (Corentin)
Philharmonia Orchestra
James Judd (conductor)
OPERA RARA ORC5 CD 2 tks 9-11

L'Africaine (1865) - Act 5 final scene
Martina Arroyo (Sélika)
Sherrill Milnes (Nélusko)
Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra and Chorus
Gerd Albrecht (conductor)
MYTO 3 MCD 011.235 CD 3 tks 8-9

Producer: Chris Barstow.

Music Played

4 items
Timings (where shown) are from the start of the programme in hours and minutes
  • Image for Giacomo Meyerbeer
    00:00

    Giacomo Meyerbeer Dinorah, Act II (excerpt) 'Qu'il est bon'

    Performers: Geoffrey Mitchell Choir Performers: Philharmonia Orchestra Performers: James Judd (conductor)

    OPERA RARA ORC5, 1

  • Image for Giacomo Meyerbeer
    00:05

    Giacomo Meyerbeer Dinorah, Act II (excerpt)Scenes 3-6

    Performer: Deborah Cook (Dinorah) Performer:Christian du Plessis (Hoël) Performer: Alexander Oliver (Corentin) Performer: Philharmonia Orchestra Performer: James Judd (conductor)

    OPERA RARA ORC5, 3

  • Image for Giacomo Meyerbeer
    00:31

    Giacomo Meyerbeer Dinora, Act II (conclusion)

    Performers: Deborah Cook (Dinorah) Performers: Christian du Plessis (Hoël) Performers: Alexander Oliver (Corentin) Performers: Philharmonia Orchestra Performers: James Judd (conductor)

    OPERA RARA ORC5, 9

  • Image for Giacomo Meyerbeer
    00:45

    Giacomo Meyerbeer L'Africaine, Act V (final scene)

    Performer: Martina Arroyo (Sélika) Performer: Sherrill Milnes (Nélusko) Performer: Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra Performer: Bavarian Radio Symphony Chorus Performer: Gerd Albrecht (conductor)

    MYTO 3 MCD 011.235, 8

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