OP0393. ESCLARMONDE (Massenet), Live Performance, 10 Nov., 1982, w. Fournillier Cond. Massenet Festival Ensemble, Saint-Etienne, France; Denia Gavazzeni Mazzola, José Sempere, Hélène Perraguin, Christian Tréguier, Jean-Philippe Courtis, etc. [An exquisite performance in delicious French style!] (Austria) 3-Koch Schwann 1269, Slipcase Edition w.Elaborate 164pp. Libretto-brochure. Very long out-of-print, Final Copy! - 099923126928
“This overweight bon-bon from 1889 is one of Massenet’s most exotic and lush works, one filled with musical motifs that bring Wagner to mind. It was composed for the California-born soprano Sybil Sanderson, a large, stunning woman with whom Massenet was obsessed; her vocal agility, huge tone, and startling range (up to a G above high-C) are thoroughly exploited in the score, and it is no wonder that the opera is rarely performed.
As it turns out, the opera is gorgeous if you can tolerate such an unending parade of orchestral colors; imagine a very expensive paint store exploding in front of you. The plot is all sorcery, enchanted isles, knights, and a quite dazzling exorcism, and if your belief can be suspended that much and you allow yourself to bask in it, this is one of opera’s greatest guilty pleasures. And the duets are as stunning as anything in MANON or WERTHER.”
- Robert Levine, ClassicsToday.com, 16 Oct., 2006