ORCHESTRE SYMPHONIQUE DE MONTREAL AND DECCA
revive their historic partnership with WORLD PREMIERE COMPLETE RECORDING OF L'aiglon
Kent Nagano and the Orchestre symphonique de Montréal revive their historic Decca partnership with the world's first complete recording of Arthur Honegger and Jacques Ibert's L'Aiglon, to be released on Decca/Universal Music Classics on March 4, 2016.
"Kent Nagano is an ideal conductor to keep sentimentality and bombast down while attending to the singers. His approach was stately and sensitive. […] The orchestra played with loving detail and the long waltz in Act III was just delicious", Opera News, March 2015
Decca and the Orchestre symphonique de Montréal (OSM),one of the finest partnerships in recording history, present a rare delight for opera fans with the world premiere recording of L'Aiglon. The double-disc set's release in March 2016 marks the launch of a new multi-album contract intended to enhance the OSM's award-winning Decca discography. L'Aiglon, by Arthur Honegger and Jacques Ibert, is brought to life by an outstanding cast of French and French-speaking singers under the baton of Kent Nagano, the OSM's critically acclaimed Music Director since 2006. The five-act lyrical drama was recorded in March 2015 at the time of its North American premiere at the orchestra's new home, the Maison symphonique de Montréal.
Kent Nagano welcomes Decca's return to recording in Montreal. "We at the OSM are delighted to inaugurate our renewed partnership with Decca with this landmark recording of an important and rarely heard opera from the French lyric tradition. The project grew out of an idea that the great tradition of the French language and particularly French lyric diction should be somehow revived, preserved and carried on into the future. Honegger and Ibert's L'Aiglon is an uncommon instance of collaboration between two significant French composers, presenting a fascinating episode from history. Of course, we know so much about the famous Napoleon Bonaparte, but not so much about his son. This first complete recording of the work allows us to bring this story and music to light and relevance for a 21st century audience,"he comments. The orchestra's existing Decca catalogue comprises close to 80 albums, includingsuch landmarks of the digital recording age as Ravel's Daphnis et Chloé, a Grammy Award-winning account of Berlioz's Les Troyens, and critically acclaimed interpretations of works by Debussy, Falla, Respighi and Stravinsky.
L'Aiglonis based on Edmond Rostand's play of 1900, originally written as a vehicle for Sarah Bernhardt. Its plot concerns the formative years in Vienna of Napoleon II, the Duke of Reichstadt, Napoleon's son and successor, and explores his role as a political pawn in the hands of the Austrian Chancellor, Prince Metternich. Honegger and Ibert were initially reluctant to take on the project but apparently agreed to collaborate after the car in which they were both travelling broke down. Their accessible yet technically sophisticated music proved popular at the time of the work's premiere production by Monte Carlo Opéra in March 1937.
Honegger and Ibert's drame musical, a form of operetta, has never before been recorded uncut. The Montreal Symphony Orchestra's album features eleven principal singers, with Belgian soprano Anne-Catherine Gillet cast as L'Aiglon ("the eaglet"), otherwise known as the Duke of Reichstadt, French Canadian baritone Étienne Dupuis as Metternich, and French baritone Marc Barrard as the Duke's devoted footman Séraphin Flambeau.
Maestro Nagano and the Orchestre symphonique de Montréal, in company with soloists Maria João Pires and Daniil Trifonov, will undertake a 10-concert tour of the United States soon after L'Aiglon's release (14-25 March), including dates at New York's Carnegie Hall, Boston's Symphony Hall and the Kennedy Center in Washington D.C.