Saint-Saëns: Phryné / Rougier, Valiquette, Dubois, Niquet, Rouen Opera Orchestra
To mark the centenary of the death of Camille Saint-Saëns, the Palazzetto Bru Zane offers a chance to discover one of his most performed and admired operas in his lifetime, presented here in a rare version. Completed in 1893 and premiered the same year at the Opéra-Comique, the piece amusingly recounts the love affair between Nicias and Phryné, who dupes the old archon Dicephilus in order to avenge his cruelty. Its witty melodies and delightful orchestration made the opera an immediate success in Paris and then throughout France. It was enriched with recitatives composed by André Messager in 1896 to promote its career in theatres abroad.
Hervé Niquet’s dashing interpretation brings out to the full the qualities of the Orchestre de l’Opéra de Rouen Normandie and the Chœur du Concert Spirituel, thus providing a sparkling backdrop for the virtuosic soprano voice of Florie Valiquette, the refined lyricism of the tenor Cyrille Dubois and the vocal authority of Thomas Dolié’s baritone.
Undoubtedly, Saint-Saëns’ lesser-known operas have featured heavily in Bru Zane’s CD-book series with releases of La princesse jaune, Le Timbre d’argent, Proserpine, Les Barbares and his Cantatas of the Prix de Rome. Bru Zane’s interest in neglected Saint-Saëns opera continues with this new release of Phryné, an hour-long opéra-comique in two acts. This is the world premiere recording of the André Messager version of 1896.
Bru Zane has assembled a talented cast of mainly first-language French speakers. Young soprano Florie Valiquette has had success as Barberine (Le nozze di Figaro), Madeleine/Madame de Latour (Le Postillon de Lonjumeau) and Gabrielle (La Vie Parisienne) this year. She sings the eponymous role here with fresh voice and no shortage of enthusiasm. In Phryné’s Act Two air Un soir, j’errais sur le rivage where she implores Aphrodite the goddess of love to safeguard her love for Nicias, she characterises well and is in splendid voice, light and attractive with a pleasing tenderness and purity.
Hervé Niquet conducts the Orchestre de l'Opéra de Rouen Normandie and the combination is a successful one. I’ve not encountered this Rouen orchestra too often; its playing has commitment, energy and, when required, a pleasing level of sensitivity. The well trained Choeur du Concert Spirituel makes a valuable contribution.
This world premiere recording was satisfyingly recorded in 2021 under studio conditions in the Opéra de Rouen Normandie. A high-end product, Bru Zane’s CD-book series of bilingual editions in French and English maintains its high standards with Phryné and contains a synopsis, five helpful essays and, most importantly the full libretto.
-- MusicWeb International
Release Date: February 18, 2022
Catalog Number: BZ1047
Label: Bru Zane
Composer: Camille Saint-Saens
Orchestra/Ensemble: Concert Spirituel Chorus, Orchestre de l'Opera de Rouen Haute-Normandie
Performer: Patrick Bolleire, Francois Rougier, Florie Valiquette, Cyrille Dubois, Thomas Dolie, Anaïs Constans
Composer: Camille Saint-Saëns
Ensemble: Orchestre de l'Opéra de Rouen Haute-Normandie, Chœur du Concert Spirituel
Performer: Florie Valiquette (Soprano), Cyrille Dubois (Tenor), Thomas Dolié (Baritone), Anaïs Constans (Soprano), François Rougier (Tenor), Patrick Bolleire (Bass)
Conductor: Hervé Niquet