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Lynn René Bayley
Fanfare, January 2014

This was a truly delightful surprise for me: an unknown opera by a (for me) unknown composer, which turned out to be absolutely marvelous. Le Roi et le fermier, or The King and the Farmer, was composed by Pierre-Alexandre Monsigny…

Soprano Dominique Labelle (Jenny) has a slightly darkish timbre, well-focused tone, superb breath support, good technique, and a lively sense of character. The same may be said for her counterpart, soprano Yulia van Doren (Betsy), whose brighter, more silvery voice is equally up to her task. Moreover, the “character” roles are also sung extraordinarily well…

…I can heartily recommend this recording. It’s truly a gem. © 2014 Fanfare Read complete review

Jerry Dubins
Fanfare, January 2014

For opera lovers in general and for those with a particular interest in French opera of this period, Monsigny’s Le Roi et le fermier is indispensable. The singers are unfamiliar to me, but among them I find not a single weak link. Strongly recommended. © 2014 Fanfare Read complete review

International Record Review, January 2014

In a fine, all-round display, this little gem of an opera draws praiseworthy results from the cast and orchestra, with conductor Ryan Brown galvanizing proceedings. Sharp, despite having reached 60, remains in steady and sturdy voice, without any signs of vocal deterioration. The women have a fascinating trio to begin Act 3. In the King’s entrance aria, Allen’s pliable tenor deals favourably with the contrasting sections. No weakness affects the smaller roles. Naxos does yeoman service with its French opera series… © 2014 International Record Review

Remy Franck
Pizzicato, November 2013

Interested in underrated French opera from the 18th century? Then you will enjoy this quality revival of Pierre-Alexandre Monsigny’s forgotten opera ‘Le Roi et le Fermier’, with solid singing and fine orchestral playing. © Pizzicato

Christie Grimstad, October 2013

William Sharp’s youthful, baritone voice leads us into Act I as Richard…in a lively ariette (“Je ne sais à quoi me résoudre”)…Subsequently we hear Thomas Dolié in his ariette as Rustaut, bringing an aura of buttermilk freshness to Monsigny’s notes.

One of the most captivating voices in Le Roi et le fermier is that of Dominique Labelle. Her tessitura aptly fits into the character of Jenny with a rarified demonstration of immense lightness and limpidness. The timbre can be likened to a delicate butterfly fluttering with lovely grace notes. What would have to be the most beautiful selection within this album is her Act III Romance, “Que le soleil dans la plaine.” Accompanied by the diction and respectful restraints from Brown’s Opera Lafayette Orchestra, Labelle’s showcase piece is one to return to repeatedly. Yulia Van Doren hints of zestful tang alongside soufflé lightness as Betsy. The remaining supporting roles are equally accomplished which serve well in this recording. © 2013 Read complete review, September 2013

The opera contains some well-considered stage business—a gunshot, a hunt that is well-portrayed in Monsigny’s music—and a number of engaging arias, all of which the Opera Lafayette performers deliver with enthusiasm and skill. It is easy to see why the attractive tunes and subtly subversive libretto of Le Roi et le fermier made it popular in its time…the well-played and nicely sung Opera Lafayette performance…gives Monsigny his due, and will undoubtedly encourage listeners to wonder what other gems of early French opera remain to be brought to the modern stage by this fine ensemble. © 2013 Read complete review

Joshua Kosman
San Francisco Chronicle, September 2013

This recording by the American period-instrument outfit Opera Lafayette, taken from a 2012 production at the University of Maryland, is ebullient and colorful, and boasts a starry cast that includes William Sharp, Dominique Labelle, Yulia Van Doren and other early-music luminaries. © 2013 San Francisco Chronicle Read complete review

Joseph Newsome
Voix des Arts, September 2013

As in all of their NAXOS recordings, the Opera Lafayette Orchestra and Opera Lafayette Artistic Director Ryan Brown again prove incomparably stylish interpreters of music like that of Le Roi et le fermier. Under Maestro Brown’s direction, lyrical numbers flow with pliancy and poise, and the three showpieces for the orchestra—the Ouverture, the ‘Orage,’ and the ‘Air de Chasse’—ripple with energy and propulsion. The twenty-eight players of the Opera Lafayette Orchestra completely surrender their strings and reeds to Monsigny’s music, playing with verve and responding faultlessly to Maestro Brown’s beat. Andrew Appel’s playing of the harpsichord continuo is noticeably clever but never distracts attention away from the singers. It is difficult to imagine that even Marie-Antoinette could have assembled a finer group of instrumentalists than the Opera Lafayette Orchestra or engaged a more dedicated, knowledgeable conductor than Maestro Brown. © 2013 Voix des Arts Read complete review

David Denton
David's Review Corner, August 2013

Pierre-Alexandre Monsigny can be credited as the creator of the opera-comique, a French version of the Italian comedies made popular by the touring Bouffon troupe. Monsigny’s early attempts were staged at rural fair theatres, but with Le Roi et le fermier, in 1762, his operas were given ‘legitimacy’ with performances in Paris at the Comedie Italienne. The plot has a literary parentage from Robert Dodsley’s play The King and the Miller of Mansfield, where the wickedly lecherous Lord Lurewel captures and imprisons Jenny, who is in love with Richard, a farmer in charge of the royal forest. When the King, who is out hunting, gets separated from his courtiers, he is found by Richard, the King telling him he is just a lost courtier. Taking him home to offer shelter, ‘the stranger’ hears the story of Jenny’s capture and subsequent escape from Lurewel, and when he eventually comes face to face with Lurewel, the truth that ‘the stranger’ is the King is revealed. He has Lurewel banished from his presence, and Richard is given his sword as a sign of his ennoblement. We are here offered just the music, the linking words being omitted, and I think period perfectionists will regret that omission. Dominique Labelle’s voice, with its fluttering vibrato, is in much demand around the world, and she makes a pretty Jenny… Thomas Michael Allen is a robust King, his opening Ariette, as the lost person, being the outstanding part of the performance. The period instrument Opera Lafayette Orchestra, conducted by Ryan Brown, is very good… © David’s Review Corner

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