Product description ------------------- CD .com ---- For all its exotically tinged, trademark Orientalism, so fashionable in late-19th-century France, Delibe's opera Lakmé is at heart a simple story of tragically misplaced love. This marvelous and sensitively wrought interpretation renders the intensity of that love story with a surprising emotional credibility. Conductor Michel Plasson allows the music's arching melodies to breathe and unfold leisurely, like a lovingly cultivated floral display; he even discovers hidden nuances within the formulaic fluff that pads Delibe's score. And his vision is shared by the outstanding principals here. As the titular Hindu princess, Natalie Dessay gives a jewel-like performance, full of stunningly shaped phrases and tapered notes that sound like spun silk (and one that can favorably compare with Joan Sutherland ( /exec/obidos/ASIN/B0000041VR/%24%7B0%7D )'s account on London). Yet she also offers substance where others are satisfied with mere vocal beauty, conveying both the al innocence of her character and an intense capacity to suffer. Gregory Kunde portrays the English interloper Gerald with moving tenderness, while he manages the high tessitura of the part with elegance and flexibility. There's a sense of shared vulnerability that the pair bring to their first duet, one of several unforgettable touches on this . The cast is filled out with rich characterizations, most notably José Van Dam's imposingly authoritarian Nilakantha. The subtle intimacy of detail Plasson inspires throughout as well as the fine engineering makes this a winner. --Thomas May


Delibes Lakmé

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