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Massenet: Hérodiade


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Product Details

  • Performer: Cheryl Studer, Ben Heppner, Nadine Denize, Martine Olmeda, José Van Dam, et al.
  • Orchestra: Orchestre du Capitole de Toulouse
  • Conductor: Michel Plasson
  • Composer: Jules Massenet
  • Audio CD (Sept. 1 1998)
  • SPARS Code: DDD
  • Number of Discs: 3
  • Label: EMI Classics
  • ASIN: B000002RV1
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)

Disc: 1
1. Introduction
2. Alerte! Levez-Vous! Le Palais Est Ouvert!
3. Encore Une Dispute!
4. Ah! Salome!...Dans Ce Palais Quelle Destinee T'Amene?
5. Il Est Doux, Il Est Bon
6. Jerusalem! Jerusalem! Salut, Ville Fortunee!
See all 20 tracks on this disc
Disc: 2
1. Dors, O Cite Perverse!
2. Ah! Phanuel!
3. Prelude
4. Herode, A Toi Ces Palmes, A Toi Ces Fleurs!
5. Je Souffre!
6. C'En Est Fait! La Judee Appartient A Tibere!
See all 14 tracks on this disc
Disc: 3
1. Prelude
2. Ne Pouvant Reprimer Les Elans De La Foi
3. Salome! Jean!
4. Romains! Nous Sommes Romains!
5. Les Egytiennes
6. Les Babyloniennes
See all 10 tracks on this disc

Product Description

Product Description

Amazon.ca

Imagine a version of the Salome story in which everybody is nice. Don't laugh: That's what this is. Salome willingly sublimates her passion for St. John the Baptist and closes the opera with her noble suicide. Of the two recent recordings of the opera (the other being under Gergiev), this is the nicer of the two and, for sticklers to French style, the more logical choice. The account of the score is more complete, with lots of ballet music that Francophiles will enjoy and others will find superfluous. Both orchestra and conductor are French. Other than Cheryl Studer (Salome), Ben Heppner (St. John), and Thomas Hampson (Herod)--all of whom sing extremely well--the cast is French and abounds with major voices (such as Jean-Paul Fouchecourt) in minor roles. But the price is an extra disc: This set has three, as opposed to Gergiev's two. Also, one must ask whether a second-tier Massenet opera (which means it's a tad innocuous) is deserving of all the respect that this recording gives. --David Patrick Stearns

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Most helpful customer reviews

Format: Audio CD
By the second half of the 19th Century, Massenet, along with Rimsky-Korsakov (in my opinion) joined the ranks with Wagner & Verdi as the foremost composers of operatic works. In France, Massenet was the most successful operatic composer & it has been decades since his death in 1912 that his operas were performed with regularities. By the second World War and two decades thereafter, most of French operas & operattas took the back seat in most repetoire and it was not until the early 1970s when French operas re-earned the interests they rightfully deserved.
Herodiade was no exception. However, interest in this work did not occur until the 1990s: it was largely ignored during the 20th Century despite its' success at its' Monnaie, France premiere of 1882, which earned an additional 54 performances for the next two seasons.
Peculiar! Herodiade is a type of opera which has significant roles singing artists may want not to resist temptations in performing. It's a work of excitement and passion and Massenet shared Tchaikovsky's neurotic psychological approach to the characters of their theatrical works. Their works are that of human emotions & their reactions to their happenings (plots) and just mere descriptions of sceneries. That add more excitement & dimensions to their operas and thus the complexities.
Like Karl Goldmark's "Queen of Sheba", Verdi "Aida", Richard Strauss' "Salome", "Herodiade" deals with love, passion, desparation, defiance, & the struggle to overcome temptations to love, in setting where religion rules, and fundamentally so.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 5 reviews
10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
chaudement agréable Dec 7 2007
By Tanis - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
Massenet's opera about Salome and John the Baptist, completed in 1880, has little in common with either the Bible story or the violent Strauss opera based on Oscar Wilde's play, and the final scene, so far from involving Salome in asking for John's head, has an ecstatic duet for them both, `hymning the chaste flame of their immortal love'--as the EMI synopsis graphically puts it. When John is executed, Salome then kills herself. What matters is that the opera offers five portly parts for well-contrasted voices.
Michel Plasson's studio recording offers well-balanced sound, sumptuous and confidently focused. His text is complete, using the final and fullest version of a work that Massenet revised several times. As Herodiade herself, Nadine Denize sings with gloriously rich, firm tone, and Thomas Hampson's portrait of Herode could hardly be richer either vocally or dramatically, with words brought out flamboyantly. It would be hard to imagine a finer Phanuel than Jose van Dam, with his well-contrasted bass-baritone incisive in attack. As for Cheryl Studer as Salome, she has rarely sung with such expressive range and beauty of tone, with words crystal-clear. Ben Heppner as Jean confirms in his clear, firmly focused delivery earlier impressions of his development as a genuine heroic tenor with few rivals today. There are first rate singers too in the small roles, and the Toulouse orchestra plays with glowing warmth and intensity, helped by the acoustic of Halle-aux-Grains.
11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
La référence Dec 13 2006
By Constantin Declercq - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
Trois versions d'«Hérodiade» se trouvent facilement : celle enregistrée en 1963 par Pathé et disponible dans le coffret «10 Opéras français» (57 minutes), celle de Radio-France de 1974 sortie en 1985 puis rééditée par Opera d'oro (deux heures et quart) et celle-ci enregistrée en 1995 (2h45). «Hérodiade», deuxième opéra de Massenet après «Le Roi de Lahore» et immense succès à l'époque, a la particularité d'avoir cinq rôles d'égale importance : Salomé, Hérode, Hérodiade, Phanuel et Jean ont donc chacun leurs grands airs et il est en général difficile de trouver un équilibre parmi les chanteurs. Cette version, enregistrée avec Michel Plasson, l'a assez bien trouvé grâce en particulier à José Van Dam qui chante Phanuel (et donc «Dors ô cité perverse»). Nadine Denize est de nouveau Hérodiade comme en 1974. Cheryl Studer est Salomé et s'en acquitte très bien (y compris en ce qui concerne le problème délicat de la diction). Ben Heppner est Jean, peut-être le moins bon des cinq. Par contre Thomas Hampson fait un excellent Hérode (et un très beau «Vision fugitive», mélodie où apparaissent pour la première fois les canons massenetiens). Enfin, Jean-Paul Fouchécourt est la voix qui chante le bref mais ô combien important «Schemah Israël» au fond du temple. Les choeurs sont superbes et on a bien sûr droit à toutes les danses de l'acte IV.
9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
So far, the most compelling performance of a masterpiece. June 18 1999
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
By the second half of the 19th Century, Massenet, along with Rimsky-Korsakov (in my opinion) joined the ranks with Wagner & Verdi as the foremost composers of operatic works. In France, Massenet was the most successful operatic composer & it has been decades since his death in 1912 that his operas were performed with regularities. By the second World War and two decades thereafter, most of French operas & operattas took the back seat in most repetoire and it was not until the early 1970s when French operas re-earned the interests they rightfully deserved.
Herodiade was no exception. However, interest in this work did not occur until the 1990s: it was largely ignored during the 20th Century despite its' success at its' Monnaie, France premiere of 1882, which earned an additional 54 performances for the next two seasons.
Peculiar! Herodiade is a type of opera which has significant roles singing artists may want not to resist temptations in performing. It's a work of excitement and passion and Massenet shared Tchaikovsky's neurotic psychological approach to the characters of their theatrical works. Their works are that of human emotions & their reactions to their happenings (plots) and just mere descriptions of sceneries. That add more excitement & dimensions to their operas and thus the complexities.
Like Karl Goldmark's "Queen of Sheba", Verdi "Aida", Richard Strauss' "Salome", "Herodiade" deals with love, passion, desparation, defiance, & the struggle to overcome temptations to love, in setting where religion rules, and fundamentally so. One is torn between observing religious laws governing societies and breaking them in order to feel more fulfilled, as a more complete person with wants & needs. Can anyone not relate to that today? Massenet and Librettists Paul Milliet & Henri Gremont handle this human nature-like predicament effectively, with bold honesty & with nothing to lose. Herodiade, like the other operas mentioned above, has a message of what love can do to a person if it is not controlled.
As for the performance. Cheryl Studer, who sang with power & conviction in Strauss' "Salome" with Sinopoli conducting the Staatskapelle Dresden, performed with the same level of power & conviction. In playing Salome in Strauss' opera & in Herodiade, Cheryl Studer bring out the human temptations and desparations out of her without exagerating Salome's personality. Nadine Denize played Herodiade effectively, as a woman torn between her husband Herode & her daughter Salome. Martine Olmieda played John the Baptist as the priest torn between Herode's (played evocatively by Ben Heppner) evil attempts to silence him & Salome's uncontrolable love for him. The rest of the cast played with upmost vividness & imagination. Michel Plasson & the Choeur et Orchestra du Capitole de Toulouse played with passion & urgency. Plasson directed the performance in a fast pace, but with excitement & upmost discipline embedded. Although I always prefer live recordings of operas, this recording will do.
Recommended! You will not be disappointed.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Certainly as good as we are ever likely to get April 7 2010
By Ralph Moore - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
I like Massenet but I think it's fair to say that this early work is one of his second-rank operas - in which case we must be grateful for the first-class performance and cast we are given here. There is sometimes a certain sameness about the themes of Massenet's operas and the tug-of-love between moral duty and passion (licit or illicit) features prominently. I think it's done better in "Thais"; both operas share a fascination with the ancient world and the battle between carnality and spirituality; both exploit the slightly uneasy relationship between Christian ascetism and pagan sensuality; both employ frequent exotic-oriental musical colouring to titillate the listener, and this ability to tap into Eastern quasi-mysticism colours many of Massenet's most successful works.

None of the singers here has an especially sensuous voice, although Van Dam, here in his later prime, manages to invest "Dors, O cite perverse" with a sinister, knowing gleam. Hampson is a bit too light and all-American-boy (though his French is very good) to suggest the sleazy infatuation which grips the greasy Herod; Ernest Blanc gives us a much more credibly unhinged and obsessive portrayal in the live Opera d'Oro bargain set. Nadine Denize reprises the eponymous role twenty years later and does so well, but time has taken its toll. I seem to be the only one always to have found Cheryl Studer rather tremulous of tone and was not altogether surprised when the fearsome range of roles and tessituras she undertook, took their toll and precipitated a vocal crisis. There is a tonal instability in her voice not inappropriate to the slightly simple Salome who appears here, and who is a million miles removed from the characterisation we are used to from Strauss and Oscar Wilde. It is not always a reassuring sound - but I seem to be in a small minority here and must bow to popular approbation. Heppner is wonderful: clean and powerful.

The opera is musically strongest in the first two acts but the psychological confrontations, implausible and illogical as they are when you actually think about the ramifications of the absurd plot, carry the whole enterprise through to a satisfying ending - as long as you can accept a nobly suicidal Salome. To me, there is more than a whiff of calculatedness about the whole thing which ends up looking merely naive, but it works on its own terms and Massenet's sinuous melodies and harmonical inventiveness sustain interest.

Plasson knows what he is doing with the score and the supporting Gallic cast is very strong. "Herodiade" is not a masterpiece but this recording is as complete and persuasive as we are ever likely to get.
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Un grand maitre debutant Feb. 15 2008
By Nicholas Freidin - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
Herodiade, la quatrieme oeuvre pour scene de Massenet, cree en 1881, est ici presentee dans sa version integrale. On y trouve deja le germe d'un genie qui composera par la suite Manon (1884), Werther (1892), Thais (1894), le Jongleur (1902), et Don Quichotte (1910). Je suis plus ou moins d'accord avec la critique de M. Declercq a part son commentaire sur l'interpretation de Ben Heppner (Jean), "le moins bon des cinq". Au contraire, Heppner est un des meilleurs atouts !

Entre parentheses, le compte rendu de M. Stearns, en tete de page, sur le merite de la partition, est franchement nul.

Un enregistrement exceptionel qui fait valoir "le maitre de toute une generation" (R. Dumesnil, L'Opera et l'opera-comique, PUF, 1971, 107).


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