Decca rightly reissued this fantastic recording by the Bonynges in the mid-1970's.
Dame Joan 'regretted' that her performances that period (in London and San Francisco) were not being videoed, and we fully understand that regret.
This rather short work by Massenet really showcases Joan Sutherland's artistry in a light that no other work probably does - including her signature 'Lucia Di Lammermoor'.
The Act One Scene 'Esprits de l'air! Esprits de l'onde' as well as the invocation in Act 2 'Ah! c'est elle! c'est elle' contain the fiendishly difficult coloraturas that are only short of Mozart's Queen of Night in Die Zauberflote.
Nor is this performance by Sutherland only on pyrotechniques. In the great love Scene in Act 2, she and her Roland Giacomo Aragall gave a performance that is both lyrical and alluring in an unequalled fashion.
In the immediate following the sumptuously lyrical aria "Helas! Ma Bein[ainee!', Sutherland enters into an entirely different mood in 'Ecoute encore! Vergas aucoeur innocent'. Her voice soars sweetly and triumphantly to another height, totally different.
An well-nigh equal in this performance in the great Spanish lirico spinto tenor Giacomo Aragall in the role of the knight Roland.
Aragall is perhaps even better than Pavarotti in the role of the valiant knight stricken hard by love, as he is more equally attune to the romantic moods of this work as well as the heroic ones. And Roland's character calls for quite diverse emotions as the plot evolves. Aragall brings the changes to great effect. His great lyrical Scene (Sc. 6) saw his aria 'La nuit bientot sera' venue', followed by the 2 duets with the bishop beginning with 'Mon fils, je te benis'. The last duet contains treacherous high notes for a spinto tenor, but he still manages to bring them out most admirably.
So 'Esclarmonde' is an opera that poses difficulties not only for the coloratura soprano, but also the spinto tenor!
Yea, it is a shame there is no video of this wonderful performance!