DESKTOP
TABLET (max. 1024px)
MOBILE (max. 640px)
Return to Top
Ludwig Van
Toronto Montreal

LEBRECHT LISTENS | Two Delightful Voices At Play In Dual Release

By Norman Lebrecht on August 11, 2017

Joyce El-Khouri and Michael Spyres In Concert (Opera Rara)
Joyce El-Khouri and Michael Spyres In Concert (Opera Rara)

Joyce El-Khoury: Écho (Opera Rara) and Michael Spyres: Espoirs (Opera Rara)

★★★★ (out of four)

Now here’s a surprise. A new release from Opera Rara usually consists of some bel canto work that has languished forgotten in a vault since its premiere 160 years ago, and usually for good reason (as becomes apparent when you’re halfway through the unreviewable second disc). This package, though, is different: a pair of debut releases by two fast-rising singers, soprano and tenor, mingling well-known arias with the fairly obscure.

El-Khoury, a Lebanese-Canadian, sticks mostly to well-trodden tracks, albeit with interesting variations. The Berlioz setting of a Freischütz piece is new to me, as is anything from Hérold’s Le Pré aux clercs, which turns out to be as overblown—as I’d always expected—though charmingly sung.

Three arias from Meyerbeer’s Robert le diable is at least one too many, but El-Khoury makes full amends with a compelling nine-minute extract from Halévy’s La Juive, followed by an absolute heartbreaker from Berlioz’s Benvenuto Cellini. Thrilling dynamic control allows for a really satisfying exposure of micro-emotions, the mark of a singer who’s on top of her game.

The American Michael Spyres, more adventurous, gives us three arias from two Halévy unseens, a shot at Verdi’s Jérusalem and a chunk of Auber’s Le Lac des fées, along with bites of Rossini, Donizetti and Berlioz, emphatically well sung with a scintillating top and rich warmth at all levels. There is one exquisite duet on each disc that makes you want to book immediately to see these singers.

Carlo Rizzi conducts the Halle Orchestra which, now and then, betrays its operatic inexperience with unsupple solo lines. On the whole, though, it’s a summer’s delight.

Joyce El-Khoury: Écho (Opera Rara) is available September 8 at Amazon.ca.

Michael Spyres: Espoirs (Opera Rara)  is available September 8 at Amazon.ca.

Hear more from Norman Lebrecht on Slipped Disc.

Norman Lebrecht

Norman Lebrecht is one of the most widely-read commentators on music, culture and cultural politics. He is a regular presenter on BBC Radio 3 and a contributor to the Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg, Standpoint, Sinfini and other publications. His blog, Slipped Disc, is among the most widely read cultural sites online, breaking exclusive stories and campaigning against human abuse and acts of injustice in the cultural industries.

Share this article
lv_toronto_banner_high_590x300
comments powered by Disqus

Ludwig Van Toronto

LEBRECHT LISTENS | A Bauhaus Inspired Piano Album To Tweak The Ear

By Norman Lebrecht on May 15, 2020

Formed by an original idea and a lot of unfamiliar sounds to tweak the ear, there, are 27 tracks on this album and not one of them is dull.
Read the full story Comments
Share this article
lv_toronto_banner_high_590x300

LEBRECHT LISTENS | Uri Caine’s ‘The Passion Of Octavius Catto’ Is Reviving Eclecticism

By Norman Lebrecht on May 22, 2020

Philadelphia composer Uri Caine's The Passion of Octavius Catto revives eclecticism in a convincing performance by the Catto Freedom Orchestra and the Philadelphia Choral Ensemble.
Read the full story Comments
Share this article

SCRUTINY | Mundane Mysteries Is An Adventure In Theatre By Phone

By Paula Citron on May 20, 2020

Theatre by phone becomes an adventure over six days with Outside the March Theatre's The Ministry of Mundane Mysteries.
Read the full story Comments
Share this article
lv_toronto_banner_low_590x300
lv_toronto_ssb_atf_300x300
lv_toronto_ssb_high_300x300
lv_toronto_ssb_mid_300x300
lv_toronto_ssb_low_300x300
lv_toronto_tsb_high_300x700
lv_toronto_tsb_low_300x700
lv_toronto_ssb_atf_300x300
lv_toronto_ssb_high_300x300
lv_toronto_ssb_mid_300x300
lv_toronto_ssb_low_300x300
lv_toronto_tsb_high_300x700
lv_toronto_tsb_low_300x700

We have detected that you are using an adblocking plugin in your browser.

The revenue we earn by the advertisements is used to manage this website. Please whitelist our website in your adblocking plugin.