OP0453. LA TOUR DE FEU (Lazzari), Broadcast Performance, 25 June, 1944, Paris, w.Ruhlmann Cond. Marisa Ferrer, Charles Fronval, José Beckmans & Pierre Froumenty. (France) Malibran 155. - 760003771556
“This CD preserves a 1944 recording of the lyric verismo opera LA TOUR DE FEU (The Lighthouse). The music is volatile, emotional, ripely operatic and opulently singable. The voices are strong and Lazzari builds some Puccinian confrontational climaxes which are stylishly and passionately taken by Ferrer and Fronval. Lazzari leans towards Franck but with much more light and air in the warp and woof of the music. At times there is a Delian sunset quality to the writing as in Naic's song 'Me voilà seule, toute seule' and in the wailing of the choir in the stertorously melodramatic and crashing Finale.
The plot turns on the jealousy of the pilot-mariner, Yann. The object of his desire is the beautiful Naic - who has always seemed foreign to the Breton island on which the opera is set. Naic prefers Yves, the son of the lighthouse keeper. The two marry and at the wedding feast Naic is troubled with unreasoning fears about going to live at the wooden lighthouse. A ship arrives and Yann leaves to guide it into harbour. Yan returns with the captain of the ship, Don Jacinto who is inveigled by Yann into staying to try his seducing skills on Naic who will be alone on the first day after the wedding night. Before Naic and Yves leave for their new home Naic agrees to a meeting with Jacinto. In Act 2 we learn that poor trusting Yves is refused by Naic on their wedding night. He leaves and Yann appears with the beguiling Jacinto. A plot is hatched under which the next night Yann will put out a false distress call, Yves will answer it and while he is away Naic will join Jacinto aboard his ship. In the third act Yves, true to plan, leaves when the false call comes in. Yves returns and after an argument puts out the lighthouse fire intending that Jacinto's ship will founder on the reef. Naic tries to persuade Yves to relight the fire but he is obdurate. Naic sings in an effort to warn Jacinto's ship. In a flash of lightning amid the gathering storm (depicted in the prelude [track 8]) Jacinto's ship is glimpsed hitting the reef and foundering. Naic in operatic despair throws herself to her death from the top gallery of the lighthouse. Yves demented by loss and guilt rekindles the warning fire and sets the tower ablaze. He dies in the conflagration - echoes of Hanson’s MERRY MOUNT here.
This 1944 recording which is surprisingly quite presentable in mono without distortion. It vividly preserves a performance made within months of the liberation of Paris and the revenge that followed. We should be grateful to Malibran for their work in refurbishing this example of Gallic verismo."
- Rob Barnett, musicweb-international
“The tenor Charles Fronval is sui generis – a typically French tenor with a rather tight and bleating vocal emission who may please those who like tenors but won’t those who don’t. The vocal interest in this recording lies with the soprano Marisa Ferrer and the baritone José Beckmans. Ferrer’s voice is of thrilling power and focus and, I would have thought, ideally phonogenic, but she inexplicably made only one commercial record. José Beckmans had the misfortune to peak during the years of the Second World War. As far as I know he did nothing worse than sing a lot in Paris during the Occupation, but that was enough to blight his post-war reputation.”
- Patrick Bade, THE RECORD COLLECTOR, 2011