Meyerbeer in France Hjördis Thébault Pierre-Yves Pruvot Didier TalpanMeyerbeer in France

Hjördis Thébault, soprano
Pierre-Yves Pruvot, baritone

Svetoslav Obretonov Choir
Chorus master: Ilya Mikhailov
Sofia Philharmonic Orchestra
Didier Talpain, conductor

Brilliant Classics, 2016

The album Meyerbeer in France is a collection of arias from six operas: Robert le diable, L’Africaine, Le prophète, Les Huguenots, L’Étoile du Nord and Dinorah (Le pardon de Ploërmel), sung by soprano Hjördis Thébault and bariton Pierre-Yves Pruvot.

My greatest perplexity is due to the soprano. Thébault has not at all a fresh voice, does not shine for virtuosity, so that her coloratura, especially in the duet from L’Etoile du Nord, are executed with little precision, as well as high notes are sometimes annoyingly shouted. Her best piece is D’ici je vois la mer immense from L’Africaine, where the slow tempo allows her to put more order in her singing. The soprano does not appear satisfactory from the point of view of interpretation too: she is bland, detached and very often cold. In general, the part of the album sung by her is quite boring.

Baritone Pruvot, on the other hand, displays a powerful voice, with unusual clear timbre, and an elegant and original phrasing, which makes interesting his arias, even if not pleasant because of a terrible vibrato, which makes annoying the long notes, that for example fill the aria from Dinorah, Mon remords te venge, that in the final part becomes unbearable. Adamastor, roi des vagues profondes from L’Africaine is definetely better and here Pruvot showcases great personality and security, complete with a final high note.

The real values of Meyerbeer in France are the excellent Svetoslav Obretonov Choir and especially the Sofia Philharmonic Orchestra, to which Didier Talpain’s baton gives a certain lustre. The conductor directs with feeling, his choices of time are good and he surrounds the arias with an ideal climate, passing by the grandeur of the just cited Africaine to the vivacious L’Etoile du Nord, to finish majestically in the long scene, again from L’Africaine. His contribution is undoubtedly the best.

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