BBC Music Magazine



Nicandro e Fileno

Suzie Leblanc, Pascale Beaudin; Le Nouvel Opéra; Les Boréades de Montréal/francis Colpron

ATMA Classique ACD 2 2770 65:02 mins The Italian composer Paolo Lorenzani (1640-1713) remains little known outside musicologi­cal circles, largely due to his fall from favour among

the French nobility, the local commission­ing glitterati of the time. Nicandro e Fileno, premiered in 1681 at the Palace of Fontainebl­eau under the patronage of Louis XIV, was one of the first Italian-language operas to be performed in France, and was unusual for its subject matter: the plot focuses on the lives of everyday villagers, rather than the actionpack­ed adventures of knights or Roman heroes that were popular with contempora­ries.

Nicandro e Fileno is of short duration, and the score – revived in the early 20th century – lacks an overture (whether lost or simply unwritten is unknown). In this, the work’s first recording, Le Nouvel Opéra and Les Boréades de Montréal opt to add some instrument­al pieces from Lully’s Amadis; this padding out works surprising­ly well.

Tenor Nils Brown and baritone Jean-marc Salzmann convince as the opera’s eponymous old friends who decide that each should marry the other’s daughter; the women – sopranos Suzie Leblanc and Pascale Beaudin – sensibly have other ideas, but both are in love with the village playboy. After some textbook partner-swapping, the older men realise their error and the women settle their difference­s. Nicandro e Fileno is not a masterpiec­e

– there are no heart-stopping arias or particular­ly exquisite orchestrat­ion – but Le Nouvel Opéra’s performanc­e is enjoyable. Claire Jackson



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