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Christie Grimstad
ConcertoNet.com, June 2020

Though Don César de Bazan’s music doesn’t live up to the grand stature of Manon or Werther, it clearly shows Jules Massenet’s early symphonic fluidity and an apogee of theatrics. He was the master! Naxos’ recording is important, for this lays the building blocks for Jules Massenet’s works to come. Any passionate fan will find the music fascinating, persuasive and, plainly said, “a keeper”. Revelatory. © 2020 ConcertoNet.com Read complete review




Remy Franck
Pizzicato, June 2020

…Laurent Naouri sings the title role. He can give the César a lot of profile and succeeds in the serious as well as in the comic. With her warm yet virtuoso voice, Elsa Dreisig is an ideal cast for the street singer Maritana, while Marion Lebègue shines in the trouser role of Lazarille. The other roles are also well cast. Mathieu Romano inspires the Orchestre des Frivolités Parisiennes and the vocal ensemble Aedes to quite excellent performances, so that the revival of this opera happened under the best musical conditions. © 2020 Pizzicato Read complete review



David Denton
David's Review Corner, June 2020

Jules Massenet wrote over thirty operas, some remaining unfinished, those that remained achieving various levels of success, Don Cesar de Bazan, now forgotten.

The libretto had already been offered to other composers who had turned it down, the Paris Opera-Comique eventually offering it to the young Massenet on the understanding he would have the opera finished within a few weeks. The production was staged in November 1972, and though it was followed by thirteen performances and a brief appearance in Vienna, Lisbon and Stockholm, it was, in commercial terms, a failure. Subsequently destroyed in a fire, Massenet recreated it 1888, and it is in this version we have a recording of a 2019 performance presented by the company, Les Frivolities Parisiennes. In four acts and described as an Opera-Comique, it is musically very attractive, but with the characters often disguised and mistaken for one another, the story is hardly plausible. Set in Spain, the King falls in love with a poor street singer, Maritana. The Queen also has a lover, Don Jose, and from there it all becomes increasingly confusing, but, as in all musical comedies, all ends happily. It is quite lengthy, at almost two hours, and following a charming overture, Massenet creates a score of arias, duets and quartets, inserting most likeable Entr’actes, including a Spanish dance at the beginning of Act 3. The cast is excellent, with the baritone, Laurent Naouri, whose career takes him to the major opera houses on both sides of the Atlantic, as Don Cesar. At the outset of her career, the young soprano, Elsa Dreisig, is delightful as Maritana, Massenet casting a high tenor as King Charles, here taken by Thomas Bettinger. The mezzo, Marion Lebegue, sings the part of the boy, Lazarille, who causes much trouble, with baritones, Christian Helmerand Christian Moungoungou, completing the cast. Ensemble Aedes are the chorus, with the first-class Orchestre des Frivolites Parisiennes conducted by Mathieu Romano. A top quality recording made last year with an ideal balance between singers and orchestra. I do beg of you to hear the opera, it really is a forgotten treasure. © 2020 David’s Review Corner



Records International, June 2020

This was the young Massenet’s first full-length opera and yet it is filled with the composer’s mature symphonic style, his gift for melody, feeling for the picturesque, and vivacity of rhythm. A narrative of dashing chivalry and romance set in the late 16th century Spain of Charles II, its plot revolves around deception and comedies of reversed identity, with a struggle between true nobility and wicked selfishness maintaining an animated momentum throughout. © 2020 Records International



Rafael de Acha
Rafael’s Music Notes, May 2020

The cast is top notch, with Laurent Naoury (a bass-baritone in reality) courageously tacking the high baritone title role and infusing it with humor. Soprano Elsa Dreisig is a charming Maritana, tenor Thomas Bettinger an elegant King Charles, and the honeyed voice mezzo soprano Marion Lebègue a standout in the trouser role of Lazarille. All four principals evidence the high standards of singing prevalent in French opera today.

The new NAXOS release is one of three Massenet works coming out this month. Up next Thais and Cendrillon, both of which we look forward to. © 2020 Rafael’s Music Notes Read complete review





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