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

RECORD KEEPING | Karajan’s Ring Gets The High End Audio Treatment

By Paul E. Robinson on September 24, 2017

While Deutsche Grammophon's new audiophile quality Karajan release is a welcome addition to his Ring legacy, it suffers in more ways than one.
Read the full story Comments
Share this article
lv_toronto_banner_high_590x300

ZERO IN | Pocket Concerts To Get Jazzy With David Braid

By Rick Barrantes on September 26, 2017

Pocket Concerts co-artistic director Rory McLeod chats about their season launch with renowned Jazz pianist David Braid.
Read the full story Comments
Share this article

CRITIC'S PICKS | 10 Concerts You Should Absolutely See This Week

By Joseph So on October 2, 2017

Classical music and opera events happening in and around Toronto for the week of Oct. 2 to 8.
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.