University of Hartford "H" Magazine - Winter 2019

University of Hartford

When the University of Hartford was incorporated just over 50 years ago by business and community leaders, they envisioned a center of education and culture for Greater Hartford. Read more...

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Sunday Afternoon at the Opera - Massenet: Cherubin

06/09/2024 1:00 pm
06/09/2024 4:30 pm


Sunday Afternoon at the Opera host Keith Brown writes:

Imagine a French romantic comedy that picks up where Mozart's "Marriage of Figaro" leaves off with the character of the horny teenager Cherubino. That's the premise of Jules Massenet's seventeenth opera, Cherubin (1903), where the boy has now matured somewhat into a rather charming and more sophisticated seventeen year old. He's still pretty silly, and a tender and harmless, non-macho character after all--one who might appeal to opera-going audiences.

The playwright Francis de Croisset granted Massenet the rights to render his sentimental stage comedy into operatic form. It premiered, appropriately for a romantic opera, on Valentine's Day. Not much of the novelist Beaumarchais's original story has survived in this adaptation, but Massenet's music is delightful and deserves to be better known. Mezzo Frederica von Stade took on Cherubin as a "breeches role" in the 1991 recording of Massenet's opera, made in the studios of Radio Bavaria, Munich. She had essayed the role previously in 1984 in a semi-staged production at Carnegie Hall, and she made Mozart's Cherubino her own, too. Baritone Samuel Ramey was with her then, singing the part of Cherubin's worldly-wise tutor, dubbed "The Philosopher." He rejoins her in this recording. The love interest here is L'Ensoleillad, the role sung by soprano June Anderson. Pinchas Steinberg directs the Munich Radio Orchestra and Chorus of the Bavarian State Opera. Reviewing the 1992 BMG Classics/RCA Red Seal release on silver disc. Fanfare magazine's critic Anthony D. Coggi has pronounced it "Recommended."