This year has brought a bumper crop of wonderful recordings of unusual operas — and one unusual recording of a repertory staple: Gounod’s Faust.
Even taking into consideration my several objections, this Faust is one of the most accomplished and intriguing opera releases of recent years.
Gounod was no mere purveyor of gentle sentiments. This 1881 opera, superbly performed, shows plenty of drama and grit.
Marc Minkowski’s recording of Jacques Offenbach’s La Périchole pays the composer a handsome tribute in his birthday year; violinist Baiba Skride’s new all-Bartók disc is one of the year’s best.
This is one of the zippiest, most life-affirming opera recordings I have heard in a long time. Well, this puts it a bit too blandly, because the work’s social satire also targets the smug self-satisfaction and careless cruelty of the powerful.