Daniel Auber’srarely performed opera La Muette de Portici was stage by the Opéra-Comique in Paris yesterday. It featured the rising young American tenor Michael Spyres. The opera was a success at its premiere in 1828, but then disappeared from the repertory and is known, if known at all, as the first Grand Opera – a genre dominated by Meyerbeer, but which reached its artistic heights with the two operas Verdi wrote for the Paris Opéra (Les Vêpres siciliennes and Don Carlos). Preliminary information indicates that both the opera and Mr Spyres triumphed at the prima. The Opéra-Comique seems an odd venue for a five act opera that ends with it’s heroine, even by the standards of opera this is special, jumping into Mount Vesuvius in the midst of an eruption. Makes the end of Tosca seem like hopscotch.
I plan to publish an interview with Spyres shortly. He wrote me on the eve of his first performance in Auber’s spectacular: “ I am currently in Paris singing the role of Masaniello in La Muette de Portici in the Opera Comique. Our opening night is tomorrow and it is quite a marvelous production.” I don’t have anything from the opera sung by Spyres, but here is the great Nicolai Gedda in a wonderful rendition of Du pauvre seul ami fidèle recorded in 1954.
Added April 10 – a link to a review of this staging.
For a different take on this performance go here.