Georges Bizet - Ivan IV - Ouvre ton coeur a l'amour (Michel Senechal)


Though Bizet is most certainly best known for his classical treatment of the Spanish gypsy, Carmen, his career included several dramatic works of various success both from a commercial and a creative point of view but which, nevertheless, fell out of the active repertory, only to be rediscovered in recent times. One of these pieces is a grand opera, "Ivan IV". Hailing from the early 1860s and composed just before "Les pecheurs de perles" it represents an attempt by Bizet to use the Meyerbeerian idiom to enliven a rather illogical story of a romantic entanglement at the court of the Russian Tzar: the story is about Ivan the Terrible, his requited love for a Circassian maiden and court intrigue that ensnares her father and brother in an assassination plot; Ivan appears at the end to save the siblings and replace them on the gallows with the evil courtier, Yorloff. It wasn't a success (perhaps, it just wasn't the right time, as grand opera was falling out of favor after the poor showing of Meyerbeer's "L'Africaine" in 1865, while Bizet himself had yet to attract a strong enough following), though it does seem to be an ambitious project. There is a full recording of the work but the present except comes from a series of highlights which provide a supplement for a 1962 recording of "Les pecheurs" with Nicolai Gedda and Janine Micheau. I am yet to properly listen to the pieces but this present serenade (I will also try to post several other pieces), sung by an an unnamed (in the plot) young Bulgarian as a serenade to the "primadonna", Marie, very much derivative from the belcanto school (use of couplets separated by chorus, ornamented lines for the tenor, a slightly sugary accompaniment (listen to the repeat which finds the tenor echoed by flute and clarinet, if I'm not mistaken)), is quite delightful, though it is as traditionalist as you could possibly be :). Michel Senechal here provides a most wonderful heady tone, very much needed for such light pieces. Hope you'll enjoy :)!

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