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David Denton
David's Review Corner, November 2015

António Pinho Vargas was an impressionable young man when, in 1974, he lived through a bloodless military coup that brought to an end Portugal’s fascist regime. His opera, Os Dias Lavantados (The Raised Days), relates events that led up to that moment and the immediate aftermath. The action is seen through the eyes of three sisters; the soldiers who brought it about, and the crowd who took to the streets in support. Given its premiere in 1998, it stands as an important contribution to European opera, its mix of almost chant-like declamation and the lyric sections for the three sisters, becoming mixed with speech-song that owes a great deal, in its texture and harmonic language, to Kurt Weill’s The Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny. There is also something of Honegger’s Jeanne d’Arc au bûcher, the orchestra, often dramatically in scene setting, being far more than an accompanying factor, its astringent quality constantly reminding the listener that this is not always a happy story. Sadly the information that comes with the release does not detail the roles each of the singers take, but I presume the three sisters are the sopranos, Ana Ester Neves, Ana Paula Russo and Elvira Ferreira, and the four soldiers are the baritones Jorge Vaz de Carvalho, Luís Rodrigues and Paulo Ferreira, together with the counter-tenor, Nicolau Domingues. The performance is taken from a Lisbon performance in March 2002, and was available at one time on the EMI Valentim de Carvalho label. Both the sound quality and balance between solo voices and orchestra is ideal, while the chorus of the National Theatre of Sao Carlos is vibrant and of excellent quality. © 2015 David’s Review Corner

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