Allyson McHardy; Nathalie Paulin; Suzie LeBlanc; Matthew White; Le Nouvel Opera; Alexander Weimann
ATMA ACD2 2505
Le Nouvel Opéra, a company directed by Suzie LeBlanc and Alexander Weimann, has contributed a stellar performance of a gem seldom heard. This oratorio by Antonio Caldara relates the story of the first Frankish king to convert to Christianity. It is characteristic of Caldara’s later Roman oratorios, set in the galant style for a small instrumental ensemble with singers chosen from the higher vocal ranges. Thus we have a cast of four: the pagan King Clovis sung by mezzo-soprano Allyson McHardy; his devoutly Christian wife Clotilde sung by soprano Nathalie Paulin; his captain Uberto sung by countertenor Matthew White and the bishop Remigus sung by soprano Suzie LeBlanc.
The artistry of the ensemble and the vocal beauty of these four voices and their marvellous interpretive skills in conveying dramatic changes (whilst somewhat confined to the da capo form) are remarkable. McHardy is a superb foil as the forceful warrior to Paulin’s tender charms as wife, LeBlanc’s patient and saintly monk and White’s steadfast captain. The small size of the ensemble and Weimann’s direction from the harpsichord and organ provides a masterful but sensitive accompaniment, allowing these superb voices to shine through brilliantly. Nowhere is this more evident than in the king and queen’s duet which takes place after the baptismal ritual, the two voices intertwining and signifying a true union of spirit.