OP2919. DJAMILEH (Bizet)(in Russian), recorded 1937, w.Orlov Cond. USSR Radio Ensemble; Ludmila Legostaeva, Anton Tkachenko & Vladimir Zakharov. (Russia) Aquarius AQVR 384. - 4607123631492
“DJAMILEH is an opéra comique in one act by Georges Bizet to a libretto by Louis Gallet, based on an oriental tale, Namouna, by Alfred de Musset. De Musset wrote NAMOUNA in 1832. In 1871 when Bizet was stalled on other projects for the stage, Camille du Locle, director of the Opéra-Comique, suggested to him a piece written some years earlier by Louis Gallet based on NAMOUNA. After some hesitation, Bizet composed the work during the late summer of 1871 but the premiere production was delayed due to trouble in finding suitable singers.
The original production formed part of a trio of new short works at the Opéra-Comique that spring: Paladilhe's LE PASSANT, then DJAMILEH, and LA PRINCESSE JAUNE (also an orientalist work) by Saint-Saëns.
DJAMILEH received its first performance on 22 May 1872 at the Opéra-Comique, Paris. Although du Locle had lavished great care on the costumes and sets, after ten performances in 1872 it was not revived in Paris until 27 October 1938. Outside France productions were mounted in Stockholm (1889), Rome (1890), and Dublin, Prague, Manchester and Berlin (1892).
The opera has been neglected for most of its existence, despite the admiration it received from both Gustav Mahler, who after introducing it in Hamburg (21 October 1892), conducted nineteen performances of it at the Vienna State Opera between 1898 (first performance there 22 January 1898) and 1903, and Richard Strauss, who viewed it as a source of inspiration for ARIADNE AUF NAXOS.”
- Z. D. Akron
“The recordings of Valdimir Petrovich Zakharov (1903-1965) are highly prized amongst collectors of Soviet vocal recordings. Zakharov was the star baritone of the All-Union Radio, a troupe which could boast such great artists as Nadezhda Kazantseva, Zara Dolukhanova and Georgy Vinogradov and Anatoly Orfenov. The main remit of the troupe was to familiarize their audience with Western and Russian works both rarely performed on the opera stage and concert platform as well as more popular fare.
Like Vinogradov, Zakharov is not known to have performed on the operatic stage. He possessed quite a large voice and was certainly an expressive and compelling actor (as can be seen in the 1958 film of Rachmaninov’s THE MISERLY KNIGHT which provides the only film footage of the singer. The film also provides a rare instance of a tele-opera where a role is not lip-synched by an actor). The voice was firm, well-trained, intensive and elegant. Unfortunately very little is known about the life of this unique and distinctive artist except that he performed the major baritone roles at All-Union Radio from the 1930s until the 1960s and that he taught at the Gnessin Institute. Such a lack of biographical material is not unusual for radio artists. Luckily, biographies have been published on Kazantseva and Dolukhanova as well as Orfenov’s autobiography.
Although many of the opera broadcasts with Zakharov’s commanding voice have appeared on CD: LES PECHEURS DE PERLES (in the role of Zurga - with Sergei Lemeshev and Nadezhda Kazantseva (OP3176), Massenet’s WERTHER (as Albert - with Ivan Kozlovsky and Maria Maksakova), Rossini’s L'ITALIANA IN ALGERI (as Taddeo - with Zara Dolukhanova), and Leoncavallo’s PAGLIACCI (in the role of Tonio - with Dimiter Uzunov and Pavel Lisitsian), Bizet’s DJAMILEH (OP2919), DIE MEISTERSINGER (OP3189), Dargomyzhsky’s ESMERALDA (OP1823), of Don Carlos in Dargomyzhsky’s STONE GUEST (with Galina Vishnevskaya), Count Almaviva in Mozart's LE NOZZE DI FIGARO (conducted by Kurt Sanderling), and Ford in Nicolai’s DIE LUSTIGE WEIBER VON WINDSOR (OP2893), there are still a large number of unpublished operas in the archives of Gostelradiofond including the title roles in Mozart's DON GIOVANNI, Grechaninov’s DOBRYNIA NIKITICH, Alexei Kozlovsky’s ULUGBEK, an outstounding Barnaba in Ponchielli’s LA GIOCONDA (with Ivan Petrov), Rolando in Verdi’s LA BATTAGLIA DI LEGNANO and Evgeny in Dzerzhinsky’s QUIET FLOWS THE DON to name but a few. A great many of his song recordings from his numerous radio recitals thankfully also exist.”
- Michael Weston