Premiered in 1784 at the Académie Royale de Musique, where it ensured the institution’s fortune, La Caravane du Caire was one of Grétry’s most famous operas, its popularity continuing into the 19th century. After the recording made under the direction of Marc Minkowski in 1991, Guy Van Waas proposes an energetic new version that enables us to discover a few variants in relation to the previous version. This production, realized by the Palazzetto Bru Zane of Venice, benefits from a fascinating musicological presentation by Alexandre and Benoît Dratwicki. The libretto is typical of the oriental subjects that were so highly prized in the late 18th century. Here, the beautiful Zélime, sold as a slave to a pasha, is rescued from the seraglio thanks to the courage of her beloved Saint-Phar and the loyalty of another Frenchman, Florestan. The work is peppered with comical situations, tender or bravura arias (including a pastiche of Italian-style coloratura) and embellished with numerous ballets, some of which contribute an original note of exoticism.
*** - Good Disc
Dominique Joucken - Musica magazine (France) - December 2014-January 2015