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ClassicsOnline Home » MASSENET, G.: Herodiade (Plasson)
When performed in the way of this recording from 1994, idiomatically sung by a starry cast and played by an orchestra imbued in the French operatic tradition, Herodiade is French grand opera at its best. In the context of the 20th-century revival of Massenet's operas this one has rarely been performed and recorded. It is wonderful therefore to have it presented in such supreme form as is the case throughout this studio version conducted by Michel Plasson.
The story of Herodiade, composed in 1880, is loosely based on the Bible, with characters such as John the Baptist, King Herod and his stepdaughter Salome, but the most striking elements of the libretto are sex, violence and various forms of male domination, mixed in a historical setting with a tasty touch of the Roman Orient. Nearly all the characters present here re-appear in the better-known and more frequently recorded opera Salome composed by Richard Strauss some 20 years later than Herodiade, but the two compositions have little more than just the names of the characters in common.
There is glorious singing, in the first place by Cheryl Studer (an intensely brilliant Salome), Thomas Hampson (an equally brilliant Herod, perhaps sounding a little too attractive to fully convey the disgusting sides of this character), and Ben Heppner (an insuperable John the Baptist whose power to inspire Salome's passion for him can surprise no listener), and impressive playing and singing by the Capitole de Toulouse orchestra and chorus. Together they create an infinitely fascinating drama that, thanks to the backing of Massenet's powerful music – and in spite of some loose ends in the dramatic structure – has a potential to win over new friends to the riches of 19th-century opera outside the Wagner tradition.more....
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MASSENET, G.: Herodiade (Plasson)