Daniele Agiman

Jules Massenet: Ève

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The subjects of Jules Massenet's early oratorios Marie-Magdeleine (1873), the work that brought him to the attention of Parisian audiences, and Ève (1874) foreshadowed the composer's lifelong fascination with complex, fallible female characters. In the libretto of Ève, by Louis Gallet, which reflects the secular, romantic perspective of the era, there is no tempting serpent, the forbidden fruit is erotic love, and God doesn't appear until the final chorus, as a cranky, pleasure-hating spoilsport. The music is characterized by the lush lyricism that became fully developed in the composer's mature work, even if there are no particularly gripping or memorable moments in this work. This recording, made at a live performance in Caravaggio, a small town in northern Italy, fails to make a very strong case for the work, largely because of the quality of the soloists. Tenor Giuseppe Veneziano as the narrator is frequently painfully out of tune and he has a distressing wobble. Hardly better is the matronly sounding soprano Denia Mazzola Gavazzeni in the title role, who does stay in tune, but who sounds strained and on the verge of being vocally out of control throughout. As Adam, baritone Massimiliano Fichera is in an entirely different league, singing with security, fullness, and warmth. The Orchestra Sinfonica and Ensemble Corale Ab Harmoniae, led by Daniele Agiman, perform competently. Bongiovanni's sound is generally adequate, but gets shrill in the louder passages, and there is considerable ancillary noise, particularly page turning.

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