Cinq-Mars (CD)

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Cinq-Mars (CD)
Artists: Mathias Vidal, Véronique Gens, Tassis Christoyannis, Andrew Foster-Williams
Orchestra: Münchner Rundfunkorchester, Chor des Bayersichen Rundfunks
Conductor: Ulf Schirmer
Composer: Charles Gounod
Audio CD (July 29, 2016)
Number of Discs: 2
Format: Import

Alfred de Vignys Cinq-Mars, published in 1826, is regarded as the first great historical novel in French. The action is set in the seventeenth century: the Marquis de Cinq-Mars gains the esteem of King Louis XIII by organising a movement of opposition to Cardinal Richelieu.

But manipulations, betrayals and plots force the monarch to abandon his champion and allow Richelieu to triumph and condemn Cinq-Mars and his friend De Thou to death. It was at the request of the director of the Opéra-Comique Léon Carvalho, attracted by the idea of a musical setting of the novel, that Gounod agreed to return to the forefront of the operatic scene in 1877, after an absence of ten years.

He produced a work that renounces none of the musical charms of Roméo et Juliette or Faust, but tends very clearly in the direction of historical grand opéra. Indeed, the second version of the piece, revised for the Opéra de Lyon, transforms the spoken dialogue into recitatives in order to enhance the fluidity of the discourse and the noble tone of the action.

It is this final version of the opera that is presented here in a recording of its first production in modern times.

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