OP3001. LA DAME BLANCHE (Boieldieu), recorded 1996, w.Minkowski Cond. Radio France Ensemble; Rockwell Blake, Annick Massis, Mireille Delunsch, Jean-Paul Fouchécourt, Laurent Naouri, Sylvie Brunet, etc. (E.U.) 2-EMI 56355, Slipcase Edition, incl.121pp. Elaborate Libretto-Brochure. Long out-of-print, Final copy! - 724355635525
“LA DAME BLANCHE was one of the most successful operas in the world when it began life in 1825 at l’Opéra-Comique, Paris. By 1862 it had received 1,000 performances at that house alone. It premiered in London in 1826, and New York in 1827. In 1904 the Met revived it with Johanna Gadski and Franz Naval, conducted by Felix Mottl. Sadly, this genre of French opera has pretty much vanished from our international opera scene and we have lost the charms of Boieldieu and Adam, not to mention the more grandiose Meyerbeer as well.
James Miller...pointed to the more complete Minkowski recording on EMI, in more modern sound as well....The Minkowski features Rockwell Blake in the fiendishly difficult tenor role of George Brown, and Blake copes brilliantly with the demands of the score....if the opera really interests you, you need the EMI [Set] because of its completeness, and because it supplies a libretto and good notes."
- Henry Fogel, FANFARE
“Rockwell Blake made his solo opera début in 1976 at the Kennedy Center in Washington D.C. as Lindoro in Rossini's L'ITALIANA IN ALGERI, and made his début at the Metropolitan Opera House in 1981 in the same role, with Marilyn Horne as his Isabella. He went on to become one of the leading Rossini singers of his generation, singing regularly at the Rossini Opera Festival in Pesaro since his début there in 1983. He made his La Scala début in 1992 as Giacomo in LA DONNA DEL LAGO. It was La Scala's first production of the opera in 150 years and was staged to mark the bicentenary of Rossini's birth. His two-and-a-half octave range and mastery of florid vocal technique and coloratura, have made him a successful interpreter not only of Rossini's tenore contraltino roles (in whose recent revival he has been a chief protagonist), but also of operas by Mozart, Donizetti, Bellini and Handel. Within that repertoire, Blake has sung in over 40 operas. Annick Massis has an almost superhuman ability to sing colorature.”
- Robert Thickness, THE TIMES
“LA DAME BLANCHE is an opéra comique in three acts by the French composer François-Adrien Boieldieu. The libretto was written by Eugène Scribe and is based on episodes from no less than five works of the Scottish writer Sir Walter Scott. The opera has typical elements of the Romantic in its Gothic mode, including an exotic Scottish locale, a lost heir, a mysterious castle, a hidden fortune, and a ghost, in this case benevolent. The work was one of the first attempts to introduce the fantastic into opera and is a model for works such as Giacomo Meyerbeer's ROBERT LE DIABLE and Charles Gounod's FAUST. The opera's musical style also heavily influenced later operas like LUCIA DI LAMMERMOOR, I PURITANI and LA JOLIE FILLE DE PERTH.
LA DAME BLANCHE was first performed on 10 December 1825 by the Opéra-Comique at the Théâtre Feydeau in Paris. It was a major success and became a standby of the 19th century operatic repertory in France and Germany. By 1862, the Opéra-Comique had given more than 1,000 performances of LA DAME BLANCHE.
The opera's popularity began to diminish towards the very end of the 19th century and performances since have been rare. The overture was put together from Boieldieu's themes by his student Adolphe Adam.
Boieldieu's score is highly expressive and full of striking numbers. Of particular note are Jenny's ballad, Brown's entrance aria and the music sung by Anna, which is highly florid and preceded by harp arpeggios whenever the Dame Blanche (White Lady) appears. The central dramatic focus of the opera is the auction scene, an ensemble in the Italian style which has an intensity not equalled or surpassed by any other opéra comique of that period, either by Boieldieu or his contemporaries. The aria from the opera that is most often performed today in recital is the tenor aria, ‘Viens, gentille dame’.”
- Ned Ludd