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“So many men want me, but I don’t care.” Add some intrigue with duelists,
as well as a pleasant resolution to the aforementioned statement, and you’ve
grasped the major plot points of “La Cour de Célimène,” an Opéra Comique
in two acts by French composer Ambroise Thomas (1811-1896). Although
we heard the world premiere recording of this work, it was first performed
in 1855.

In the role of the Countess, soprano Laura Claycomb has ample opportunities
to exhibit vocal pyrotechnics, particularly with the several notes above high C,
sung at the beginning of Act Two. She rises to meet every challenge, and is
supported by a very competent cast.

As this work is an Opéra Comique, it includes spoken dialogue. It is another
well-recorded concert performance, like the other Opera Rara discs
that I’ve heard, and reflects the integrity of the Peter Moores Foundation.
Under the baton of Andrew Litton, the Philharmonia Orchestra is exemplary.

Ambroise Thomas was a popular composer during the mid 19th Century;
however, by the end of this period, his works had fallen out of favor. In fact,
“La Cour de Célimène” was only performed 19 times in its day. This two-CD
set is accompanied by a thick libretto booklet, complete with color photographs
of the performers. Think of it as “aural cotton candy!”