A Fine Collection of Opéra-Comique Overtures

Michael Halász and the ORF Vienna Radio Symphony Orchestra deliver an attractive selection of French Opéra-Comique overtures. The genre evolved over time, from light, frothy entertainment to more serious and realistic subjects. But the overture was always a curtain-raiser. And that’s just what we get. Maestro Halász keeps things moving. Orchestral contrasts are suitably dramatic, and the ensemble is light on its feet when it needs to be.

The recorded sound is good, although I wished for a little more definition. Nevertheless, the ensemble blend is wonderful. The performances are good-humored, and even the serious passages don’t sound all that dire.

The program features a nice sampling of the genre. The earliest overtures are from the Revolutionary Era: François-Adrien Boieldieu Le Calife de Bagdad (1800), and Etienne Mehul’s Héléna (1803). And a few from the late 1800s, like Alexandre-Charles Lecocq La Petite mariée (1875).

Famous composers such as Jacques Offenbach are represented by lesser-known works (in this case) Le mariage aux lanternes. The selections make the entire program sound fresh. These are buoyant feel-good curtain-raisers. And for me, it was just plain fun to listen to.

Opéra-Comique Overtures
Works by Boieldieu, Delibes, Gounod, Halévy, Herold, Lecocq, Maillart, Méhul, Offenbach
ORF Vienna Radio Symphony Orchestra; Michael Halász, conductor

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