OP0557. PYRAMUS AND THISBE (Lampe), recorded 1994, w.Peter Holman Cond. Opera Restor'd; Mark Padmore, Susan Bisatt, etc.; Peter Holman Cond. Rachel Brown: 'The Cuckoo' Flute Concerto in G (Lampe). (England) Hyperion CDA 66759, w.22pp Libretto-Brochure. Very long out-of-print, Final Copy! - 034571167596
“John Frederick Lampe, born in Saxony, settled in England in the 1720s. For a time he played the bassoon in Handel's opera orchestra; then in the early 1730s he was one of the group of musicians who put on English operas at the theatre opposite Handel's in the Haymarket and he wrote several pieces for the company before turning to burlesque, enjoying particular success with THE DRAGON OF WANTLEY (1737). PYRAMUS AND THISBE (1745) was his last opera; later he went to Dublin and to Edinburgh, where he died in 1751. None of his operas survives complete; publications of the time usually reproduced the airs but not the recitatives or choruses, and the scores of most operas perished in the numerous theatre fires of the time.
For Pyramus Peter Holman has had to supply recitatives, which he does with style and, I fancy, a touch more imagination than Lampe himself might have managed. Yet Lampe's airs are deftly written. The text is based on Shakespeare's 'lamentable play' in A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM, with Wall, Moon and Lion among the characters as well as Pyramus and Thisbe. Lampe's music has a good deal of wit - listen for example to the Wall's Song, with the lovers' groans and moans represented by harsh open violin Gs, its pseudo-pathetic G minor tonality, its amusing setting of '’whisp'ring whisp'ring [17 times] hole�; or the duet as the lovers depart 'without delay', in typical operatic haste, with much repetition and many pauses; or the Lion's Song with its rhythmic growls.
No one would suggest that it is high quality music, but it is resourceful and entertaining. And it is excellently presented here, in unpretentious style - this kind of music fares far better with modest-sized voices and careful diction than if more self-consciously sung. The two principals sing with due charm and tenderness: Mark Padmore offers a pleasantly relaxed and fresh-sounding tenor and Susan Bisatt some shapely lines and well-focused tone. Peter Holman's direction is direct and idiomatic.�
- Stanley Sadie, GRAMOPHONE, Dec., 1995