Lebrecht Weekly – Joyce El-Khoury, Michael Spyres (Opera Rara)

Advertisement / Publicité

Joyce El-Khoury Écho

Now here’s a surprise. A new release from Opera Rara usually consists of some bel canto work that has languished forgotten in a vault since its premiere 160 years ago, and usually for good reason (as becomes apparent when you’re halfway through the unreviewable second disc). This package, though, is different: a pair of debut releases by two fast-rising singers, soprano and tenor, mingling well-known arias with the fairly obscure.

El-Khoury, a Lebanese-Canadian, sticks mostly to well-trodden tracks, albeit with interesting variations. The Berlioz setting of a Freischütz piece is new to me, as is anything from Hérold’s Le Pré aux clercs, which turns out to be as overblown as I’d always expected though charmingly sung.

Three arias from Meyerbeer’s Robert le diable is at least one too many, but El-Khoury makes full amends with a compelling nine-minute extract from Halévy’s La Juive, followed by an absolute heartbreaker from Berlioz’s Benvenuto Cellini. Thrilling dynamic control allows a really satisfying exposure of micro-emotions, the mark of a singer who’s on top of her game.

Advertisement / Publicité

Michael Spyres Espoir

The American Michael Spyres, more adventurous, gives us three arias from two Halévy unseens, a shot at Verdi’s Jerusalem and a chunk of Auber’s Le Lac des fees, along with bites of Rossini, Donizetti and Berlioz, emphatically well sung with a scintillating top and rich warmth at all levels. There is one exquisite duet on each disc that makes you want to book immediately to see these singers.

Carlo Rizzi conducts the Halle Orchestra which, now and then, betrays its operatic inexperience with unsupple solo lines. On the whole, though, it’s a summer’s delight.

—Norman Lebrecht

Sign on to the blogfeed: www.slippedisc.com
Visit the website: www.normanlebrecht.com
  • Joyce El-Khoury: Écho
  • Michael Spyres: Espoir
  • User Ratings (0 Votes)

About Author

Norman Lebrecht is a prolific writer on music and cultural affairs. His blog, Slipped Disc, is one of the most popular sites for cultural news. He presents The Lebrecht Interview on BBC Radio 3 and is a contributor to several publications, including the Wall Street Journal and The Standpoint. Visit every Friday for his weekly CD review // Norman Lebrecht est un rédacteur prolifique couvrant les événements musicaux et Slipped Disc, est un des plus populaires sites de nouvelles culturelles. Il anime The Lebrecht Interview sur la BBC Radio 3 et collabore à plusieurs publications, dont The Wall Street Journal et The Standpoint. Vous pouvez lire ses critiques de disques chaque vendredi.

Leave A Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.