REGISTER NOW AND GET
• 5 FREE tracks! • 101 tracks for $9.99
ClassicsOnline Home » MEYERBEER: Etoile du Nord (L')
A Splendid Romp
This is not the Meyerbeer of such spectacular Grand French Opera-seria as 'Robert le Diable', 'Les Huguenots', 'Le Prophete' or 'L'Africaine'; in fact hearing this blind one might suspect a forebear of another German Jew turned more Parisian than the Parisians - Offenbach.
Originally described as an 'opera de demi caractere', it conforms to the conventional description of 'opera comique'. Its origins lay in his only German opera, 'Ein Feldlager in Schlesien', written ten years before, in 1844, on a visit to his Berlin banker family, adapted for the Paris stage in conjunction with his favourite collaborator, Scribe.
In the absence of a libretto or notes the plot is not easy to follow; and being a typical concoction of mistaken identities, breeches-parts and subterfuges, involving Peter the Great when famously working in disguise as a shipwright in 'Finland' (in reality his shipbuilding experience was in Amsterdam) and also a flute player; Catherine the workers' schnapps-seller prophetically protected by a 'Northern Star'; her brother George about to marry Prascovia; Cossacks from whom Catherine saves the village by disguise as a gipsy fortune-teller; Catherine then disguises herself as a soldier in the Czar Peter's army where she hears of a plot on his life. He is drunk when she tries to warn him and he orders her to be shot as a troublemaker; she escapes; and when he sobers up heeds the warning. Peter is overcome by remorse. Catherine loses her memory and mind (another mad scene!). She regains her memory and sanity back in her home village and on hearing her favourite flute tune played by Peter. She thus becomes his Empress.
This is a recording of the live performance at the 1996 Wexford Festival, and well exemplifies that most delightful of opera festival's reputation for making discoveries and rediscoveries: not only was the opera itself a rarity but such names as Jurowski, Maltman or Florez were not as well known as today. It does not suffer from too much stage or audience noise; although the orchestra is slimmed down to fit the small pit at the Wexford opera house, sounding a little boxy initially. As soon as the opera gets into its stride, there is nothing to restrict one's pleasure.more....
Last Albums Viewed
MEYERBEER: Etoile du Nord (L')