BBC Music Magazine
Pauline García Viardot
The Last Sorcerer Eric Owens, Jamie Barton, Camille Zamora, Adriana Zabala, Sarah Brailey, Michael Slattery; Trudie Styler (narrator); Manhattan Girls Chorus/michelle Oesterle; Myra Huang, Liana Pailodze Harron (piano) Bridge 9515 66:39 mins
The great Spanish-french mezzo-soprano Pauline García Viardot (18211910) retired from the stage in 1863. Fêted by Chopin, Gounod, Meyerbeer and Saintsaëns, she had enjoyed a glittering career. Yet Viardot was herself also a composer, and went on to create several salon operas for her children and students to perform.
This delightful premiere recording of the only recently available Le dernier sorcier (The Last Sorcerer, 1867) reveals Viardot as an accomplished melodist with a keen sense of character and dramatic pacing equal to that of her novelist librettist, Turgenev. A knowing, post-magic Flute tale of grumpy, washed-up wizards and redemptive faeries, the opera highlights the importance of love over money as Lelio and Stella come together and restore the land to health.
Refreshingly, it’s the women who drive the narrative – and, indeed, the recording, with soprano Camille Zamora doubling as producer alongside associates, mezzo Adriana Zabala and Manhattan Girls
Chorus director, Michelle Oesterle. They bring evident passion to the project, together with a stellar cast including actress-narrator Trudie Styler. Pianists Myra Huang and Liana Pailodze Harron complete an excellent team in this wonderfully worthwhile project. Steph Power PERFORMANCE ★★★★ RECORDING ★★★★