The operas of Daniel-Francois-Esprit Auber have long since slipped out of anyone's repertoire. Only Fra Diavolo gets an occasional outing. Le Domino Noir was brushed up a few years ago by Bonynge and Sumi Jo.
This recording is first rate and deserves to be heard. It is the opera and story Verdi absconded for his Un Ballo in Maschera. Many people have said Auber is better. To my ears, those people may be right.
I have never found Ballo to be as good as other Verdi operas. It has too many effects numbers, like the laughing chorus, or the "stealthy" motifs.
Auber gives an honest, stylish account of the story (very close in form to Verdi's) and does not resort to "clever" moments like the final minuet leading into the assassination. The passions are not short changed, but they aren't Italian either. They have poise and poignance. Michel Swierczewski conducts a wonderful account of the score. The singers actually attempt to sing in bel canto style, without heaviness and with legato phrasing. There is not one Italianate voice in the lot.
Laurence Dale is Gustave, and he sings beautifully. His characterisation is clear and moving. Rima Tawil is not a name I know, and her voice is slightly tremulous. But Amelie is even harder than Amelia of Verdi! Christian Treguler is Ankastrom (Amelie's husband), and his change from loyal friend to betrayed husband is heard quite clearly in his voice. The entire cast is firmly in the French style. This recording needs to return to the catalogue so people can compare to Verdi. You will be surprised who might just win out.