Label: BRU ZANE
Format: COMPACT DISC
Les Talens Lyriques Christophe Rousset Flemish Radio Choir
Guilty of allowing the sacred fire to go out while declaring her love to the general Licinius, the Vestal Virgin Julia is sentenced to be buried alive. But her execution is averted by a divine intervention, which rekindles the altar flame and absolves the victim. The simple plot of Gaspare Spontini’s La Vestale achieved resounding success in 1807 thanks to the highly skilled treatment of the characters’ psychology and the transparency of the political allusions – Licinius is an allegory of Napoleon Bonaparte himself. Yet the work is more than a mere piece of propaganda: it represents one of the links between the tragédie lyrique of the Ancien Régime and the future grand opéra à la française, even anticipating Bellinian bel canto. The opera’s focal point is the character of Julia, which requires an exceptional soprano to do it justice. After the creator, Caroline Branchu – whom Berlioz described as ‘operatic tragedy incarnate’ – and Maria Callas at La Scala in 1954, Marina Rebeka takes on in masterly fashion a role that seems tailor-made for her impressive vocal resources, supported by the energy and precision of the period instruments of Les Talens Lyriques under Christophe Rousset. The result is genuinely revelatory.