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David J. Baker
Opera News, October 2013

Brown guides the Lafayette period instruments ensemble and fine, dedicated soloists such as soprano Elizabeth Calleo (Clémentine) and tenor Emiliano Gonzalez Toro (Le Magnifique) with insight and unflagging energy…their sense of discovery and delight, provide ample compensation. © 2013 Opera News Read complete review



Charles H Parsons
American Record Guide, May 2013

Bursting with personality is tenor Thompson, as he relishes the text. Tenor Gonzalez Toro has the loveliest voice of the three…

The work is effective musically, with many a good tune to delight the ear.

The recording is a delight, with youthful voices in full cry. Conductor Brown keeps the music light. © 2013 American Record Guide Read complete review on American Record Guide



John Sheppard
MusicWeb International, April 2013

As you would expect from this composer, the music is unfailingly well-made and elegant, but at times it goes much further than that.

The performance is admirably stylish, with singers and orchestra all fully attuned to the French style of this period.

All in all this disc offers a very welcome opportunity to get to know another work by one of the great but still little-known masters of eighteenth-century opera. © 2013 MusicWeb International Read complete review



Lynn René Bayley
Fanfare, March 2013

All the singers have excellent voices…[Sulayman’s] rendering of the “horse aria” is absolutely delightful. Brown conducts with a light, deft hand: He evidently understands the French galante style very well. This recording is an unexpected delight, and I commend both Ryan Brown for his superb musical direction and the foresight of Naxos to record this. Bravo, one and all! © 2013 Fanfare Read complete review



Infodad.com, December 2012

Grétry’s programmatic overture, a rarity for its time, sets up the story nicely, and the music of the opera—which runs 80 minutes and which Naxos has managed to fit onto a single CD—propels the plot along neatly, with the love music being especially expressive. Opera Lafayette has successfully revived quite a few long-unperformed operas, and does itself proud…with this sparkling recording. Ryan Brown leads the troupe with a sure hand…Le Magnifique…[has] many pleasures and a catchy, well-constructed score that is well worth rediscovering—or discovering in the first place. © 2012 Infodad.com Read complete review



David Denton
David's Review Corner, November 2012

The operas of Andre-Ernest-Modeste Gretry are almost unknown today, though in his lifetime he wrote more than fifty, mainly for the Paris Opera-comique. Le Magnifique, dating from 1773, was one of his earliest scores, for while educated in France as a precocious young composer, Gretry had been fortunate to end his student days in Rome where he lived for some years. There he was introduced to Italian opera, and that influence he brought back to Paris where he was to write short lightweight operas for the Comedie-Italenne company, later known as the Opera-comique. Le Magnifique is somewhat special in having one of the first programmatic overtures in the history of opera. Its story is of the young woman, Clementine, loved by her tutor, Aldobrandin, who has made sure of her hand, by having her father and his male companion sold into slavery following a shipwreck. Now - as all good opera stories will have it - the man who has attracted Clementine’s attraction is Oliver, who has just bought them both, with many other men, to take them out of slavery and return them to their home. So all ends happily with Aldobrandin’s villainy exposed and the lovers engaged to be married. The present performance comes from the American company, Opera Lafayette, who have already added a number of forgotten operas to the Naxos catalogue. The score, in three short acts, runs to eighty minutes in this performance, though it omits all spoken dialogue, which, I gather, would add around 20 minutes. The performance is good, the Italian-American soprano, Elizabeth Calleo, as Clementine having that pert voice and vocal acrobatics on which the Opera-comique thrives. Jeffrey Thompson makes the most of Aldobrandin’s first act wooing, while the Swiss tenor, Emiliano Gonzalez Toro…Bringing a buffo character to the finale, the American, Karim Sulayman, is excellent as Fabio, and if the orchestra does not shout out that it is of period instrument pedigree, it plays very well for conductor, Ryan Brown. © 2012 David’s Review Corner




Dominique Joucken
Classica

Clarity, light and sobriety are perfectly adapted to this work’s esthetics. One must always return to Grétry. His art represents an accomplished form of classicism. The line is clear, the airy planes, the melody firmly drawn, all this is a fount of youth to our postmodern ears used to such a frenzy of sounds. The clever wits will complain that they cannot find in it the intellectual richness of a Johann Sebastian Bach, nor the breath of passion that Ludwig van Beethoven provides, but the aim of Andre Grétry is different: To give the musical equivalent of the thoughts of Enlightenment and to that effect present an ideal in balance and measure. Music reigns here and it is an unadulterated joy: limpid overture, melancholic airs, balanced ensembles, everything is in a harmonious balance that will soon be taken away by the romanticism.

To resuscitate this unjustly forgotten work, an important link in the production of Grétry, Naxos has had the happy idea to call in the American Ryan Brown and his ensemble Opera Lafayette, who are already the authors of several major successes in this repertoire. If the orchestra instruments are modern, this does not prevent bounciness and vivacity, and guarantees rock solid pitch accuracy, particularly in the brass. The singers, mostly not French speaking, are at ease in this universe: everyone is easily understood, and no one pushes or overdoes a passage which would have the effect of destroying the fragile beauty of this music. We will mention in particular the soprano Elizabeth Calleo, whose Clementine is ideally fresh and prim. A beautiful return of a score which bears its name appropriately. © Classica






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5:25:24 AM, 21 April 2014
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