The Sunday Times
'The star is Rebecca Evans’s Leïla, exquisitely beautiful of tone, immaculate technically and getting a lot of the words across.'
Opera in Three Acts
Libretto by Eugène Cormon and Michel Carré
English translation by David Parry
Simon Keenlyside, baritone (PMF Scholar) - Zurga
Barry Banks, tenor (PMF Scholar) - Nadir
Rebecca Evans, soprano - Leïla
Alastair Miles, bass - Nourabad
Geoffrey Mitchell Choir
London Philharmonic Orchestra
Brad Cohen (PMF Scholar) - Conductor
Recorded in Blackheath Halls, London
10-12 September 2007
Producers - Brian Couzens (Executive) and Rachel Smith
Sound engineer - Ralph Couzens
Assistant sound engineer Peter Newble
'The three leads pair off splendidly, exhibiting rapt dramatic interplay. Rebecca Evans's agile soprano has metal in it which prevents conventional 'beauty of tone'; but she is plangent then riveting, as in Leïla's defiance of Zurga's death-orders:
'Take your revenge! You monster! Laugh! Zurga, I curse your name, curse your soul!'.
Their ten-minute confrontation, when she pleads for Nadir's life, is the highlight of these highlights, exemplifying Bizet's scene-building mastery. Barry Banks’s Nadir contrasts well with Simon Keenlyside's tempestuous, heart-torn Zurga: their fraught friendship totally convinces. Alastair Miles exudes the magisterial utterance one wants in a Brahmin priest. Cohen and the London Philharmonic lead us into a sound-picture that reveals depth upon depth of ear-catching scenepainting. At 79 minutes, this disc gives you the pearls in Bizet's oyster.'
This new recording features David Pountney's skilful translation and the dialogue is presented with admirable simplicity and naturalness. The cast is a strong one, with commanding performances from Christine Brewer and Robert Lloyd. as Leonora and the jailor, Rocco, and a vivacious Marzellina from Rebecca Evans... As the imprisoned Florestan, Richard Margison is warmly lyrical... if you want the opera in English this new version, sympathetically and intelligently conducted by David Parry, is impressive.'