What the French expected from opera changed in 1831 with the success of Meyerbeer’s ‘Robert le Diable’. Lengthy works with abundant scenic spectacle became practically obligatory and at least one ballet had to be included, in order to give the gentlemen of the influential Jockey Club an opportunity to see their favourites from the ‘corps de ballet’ in action. Verdi might have disagreed with the concept and grumbled over it but even he wanted to succeed in Paris and enjoy international fame so he played by the rules and gave the Parisians what they wanted.
The ‘Otello’ and ‘I Lombardi’ excerpts both represent first releases on CD, as does Bonynge’s ‘Leoni’ – originally coupled on the LP with the same composer’s ‘L’Oracolo’.
Otello: Ballet Music (Act III)
Don Carlo: Ballo della Regina (Act III)
I vespri siciliani: Le Quattro Stagioni (Act III)
The Prayer and the Sword
National Philharmonic Orchestra
Recording Producers: Michael Woolcock, Gordon Parry (Verdi); James Mallinson (Leoni)
Balance Engineers: Gordon Parry, Colin Moorfoot, Jack Law (Verdi); James Lock, Philip Wade, Simon Eadon (Leoni)
Recording Locations: Masonic Auditorium, Cleveland, USA, July 1974 (Verdi); Kingsway Hall, London, UK, September 1976 (Leoni)
‘the virtuosity of the Clevelanders is breathtaking … The recording is both brilliant and atmospheric in the way that the Decca engineers have now devised in their Cleveland recording venue at Masonic Hall’ Gramophone