PHILIDOR: Les Femmes Vengées
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PHILIDOR: Les Femmes Vengées

CD Button Debono, Beaudin, Staskiewicz; Thompson, Figueroa, Dobson. Opera Lafayette, Brown. French text and English translation available online. Naxos 8660353

Recordings Philidor Cover 216

OPERA LAFAYETTE, under the direction of Ryan Brown, specializes in eighteenth-century French music and has brought to light many fascinating operas by Grétry, Rebel, Monsigny and Philidor. Similar casting and related plots between Philidor’s Les Femmes Vengées and Mozart’s Così fan Futte suggested a pairing that led to staged performances last year in New York and Versailles. 

In Michel–Jean Sedaine’s opéra-comique libretto for Les Femmes Vengées, three wives uncover the infidelities of their husbands, whom they then torment and punish but later forgive. Opera Lafayette’s young cast, many with credits from William Christie’s Jardin des Voix young artist training program, sing with clean, stylish vocalism and manage the comedy capably. But it’s Ryan Brown’s orchestra that steals the show, playing with rich contrasts, clarity and verve.

As the ringleader, sweet-voiced Claire Debono gets several charming arias—including one in which she blithely leaves two suitors waiting outside while she attends to her da capo—and brings nice temperament to the dramatic, mock-rage aria “Ah, ah! Pauvres femmes.” Mezzo Blandine Staskiewicz sounds muffled but brings personality to her called-for song. Pascale Beaudin is a constant delight, especially in her virtuosic aria “De la coquette.” In stating, “I never imitate the flighty flirt,” Beaudin brings command to the many warbling trills and other quick decoration.

The ensembles are particularly captivating, especially the minor-key quartet, “Quoi? Vous pleurez,” and a duet in which two husbands remain civil and charming as they assess their chances with another friend’s wife. The agitated, mock-rage duet “Oui, dans ma fureur” brings out the comic talents of warm-voiced tenor Antonio Figueroa and baritone Alex Dobson. Tenor Jeffrey Thompson sounds bright and nimble, especially leading the Vaudeville finale. —Judith Malafronte 

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