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Malcolm Hayes
BBC Music Magazine, March 2018

A poetic prelude introduces an opera of slender substance and monotonous pacing, despite passages of genuine charm. Decent singing and playing, apart from Diana Veronese’s wobbly Maria. © 2018 BBC Music Magazine

Richard Sininger
American Record Guide, November 2017

The best of the lot is the Mexican baritone Jesus Suaste, whose Pencho creates a real heroic figure with a fine voice, capable of some lovely soft singing. The soprano is Diana Veronese, who certainly has all the voice needed… Tenor Dante Alcala has a very bright, accurate sound, but he sounds a bit light against Mr Suaste and Ms Veronese. The supporting cast is fine, as are the Wexford Chorus and the National Philharmonic of Belarus, conducted by Max Bragado-Darman. © 2017 American Record Guide Read complete review on American Record Guide

James H. North
Fanfare, March 2017

Georgian dramatic soprano Diana Veronese has a warm, full instrument; she pours herself into the title role but can be wayward in pitch. Mexican tenor Dante Alcalá has a firm, attractive voice with an impressive ring when called for. Jesús Suaste, also Mexican, has a dry, light baritone. The two men’s voices would seem more apt for each other’s roles: The cool baritone portrays poor, passionate Pencho, the ringing tenor is the Javier, the privileged rich kid.

The music has a Puccinian lyricism but is far less memorable, the vocal lines are not too challenging, and the orchestral writing is expert. © 2017 Fanfare Read complete review

Göran Forsling
MusicWeb International, January 2017

The singing is good with some of the participants standing out. David Curry as Don Fulgencio, the doctor, is a strong personality. Dante Alcalá, (Javier) sports a beautiful tenor and Gianfranco Montresor (Javier’s father, Domingo) is a pleasure to listen to. Silvia Vázquez (Fuensanta) is another memorably good singer. © 2017 MusicWeb International Read complete review

Grego Applegate Edwards
Gapplegate Classical-Modern Music Review, December 2016

The present recording is very solid and convincing in the hands of Max Bragado-Darman, a host of soloists, the Wexford Festival Opera Chorus and the National Philharmonic Orchestra of Belarus.

Diana Venonese, in the principal role, takes some getting used to for her vibrato-heavy explosiveness, but one finds oneself adjusting in time. The production as a whole is first-rate and gives us a vibrant reading of the extraordinarily fetching work.

Very recommended. © 2016 Gapplegate Classical-Modern Music Review Read complete review

Remy Franck
Pizzicato, November 2016

This is the republication of a Marco Polo release from 2004 with Enrique Granados’s opera Maria del Carmen. The production comes from the Wexford Festival and is expertedly conducted by Max Bragado-Darman. The orchestra is remarkable and the singers, suffering from a dry acoustic, are more or less acceptable. © 2016 Pizzicato

Rob Barnett
MusicWeb International, October 2016

Opera buffs need to hear this glorious music. …The singing is enjoyable and the orchestral playing by the National Philharmonic Orchestra of Belarus is more than up to the mark. © 2016 MusicWeb International Read complete review

David Denton
David's Review Corner, October 2016

It is difficult to understand why Granados’s Maria del Carmen has languished as a neglected masterpiece, when it makes an ideal alternative to popular Italian scores. It is a typical nineteenth century story of two men in love with Maria, one wealthy and one poor. They ostensibly fight over the supply of water to the village, the rich one, Javier becoming seriously wounded while the other, Pencho, flees to north Africa. Maria nurses Javier in the hope he will pardon Pencho, but he sees it as her love for him. Without a leader the villagers ask Pencho to return, and even though he knows it could result in his capture, he returns. It is not what he expects when he finds Maria looking after his ailing rival, Javier’s wealthy father telling Maria that he will not have Pencho arrested if she agrees to marry Javier, which she does. Then faced by Pencho she has to tell him the reason. Two more twists in the story, and Javier’s father finds his son will not live, and Penchio and Maria are allowed to escape. Granados’s highly attractive music is spiced with Spanish dance moments, the score filled with attractive arias and never short of drama. Unfortunately Naxos have failed to reveal that this is not a new release, but a reissue of a Marco Polo two-disc set dating back to 2004, and is a ‘live’ recording of a production the previous year in Ireland’s Wexford Festival. Looking back at my original review I spoke of the young Mexican tenor, Dante Alcala, as being ‘a real discovery, his fluid and nicely coloured voice flowing lyrically through Javier’s role’. And so it has turned out that a major career followed. …Jesus Suaste, as Pencho, is a baritone already with a long career, while the many remaining roles are never less than satisfying. The Belarus orchestra was filling a gap in a transitory period in the festival’s history, but add the necessary Spanish colours for conductor Max Bragado-Darman. At the time the bijou theatre, with its tight acoustic, was not easy for recording engineers, and already awaiting demolition to give way for the new and quite superb theatre that each year continues Wexford’s search for neglected operas, and I hope one day Naxos will return there. You will need to access the Naxos website for the libretto. © 2016 David’s Review Corner

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