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Meyerbeer On Record, Volume 2
Giacomo Meyerbeer was one of the greatest composers of his time, though his operas have virtually disappeared from the repertory. There are several possible explanations. It is postulated that Meyerbeer’s tradition of grand opéra fell out of favor. With the rise of verismo, there was a move away from the heroic tradition and a decline in the art of bel canto singing required for the proper rendition of his roles. Negative attitudes toward Meyerbeer are an aspect of this negativity toward bel canto in general, which emerged in the third part of the 19th century. This pro-German movement, focused on Richard Wagner, became entrenched in academic circles, with enduring effects. It has also been proposed that the adoration of Wagner, whose rise coincided with Meyerbeer’s fall, helped push Meyerbeer into obscurity; it is cited that a climate of anti-Semitism (fanned by Wagner and promoted by National Socialism) accelerated Meyerbeer’s eclipse. It has also been less convincingly observed that there are nearly insurmountable obstacles needed to produce a Meyerbeer opera today, and this leaves his works languishing. For whatever the reason, one must depend on recordings to understand the greatness that is Giacomo Meyerbeer.
Meyerbeer on Record, volume 2 chronicles his last three operas: L’ÉTOILE DU NORD, LE PARDON DE PLOËRMEL (also known as DINORAH), and L’AFRICAINE. Every effort has been made to provide the definitive recorded example of all sung portions of these operas, giving preference to those excerpts performed in Meyerbeer’s chosen language of French and recorded by some of the greatest voices of our musical past. In addition to three discs is a booklet containing biographies and rare photographs of the singers; plot summaries of the operas; and essays by highly respected Meyerbeer scholars. For the present, this set is one of the few ways to experience Meyerbeer, though it is hoped that this will be a bridge leading to the time when his enthralling operas will be performed again.
Marston is grateful to the Estate of John Stratton (Stephen Clarke, Executor) for its continuing support.
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