Ravel: L'Heure espagnole; Don Quichotte à Dulcinée

Reviewed on Mon 21 Mar, 2016

The opera takes place in a clock shop, and Ravel’s fondness for mechanical devices is certainly evident. All the singers are good here, with strong, clear vocal sound, excellent diction, and a good understanding of their roles.

Ravel’s first opera, from 1907-09, is a superb stage farce, and if you can’t find a good video (such as Glyndebourne’s), I think this is the best audio performance, just from the standpoint of clear sound. The opera takes place in a clock shop, and Ravel’s fondness for mechanical devices is certainly evident. The orchestration is Ravel at his best, with some admirable jokes but beautifully sensitive as well, and anticipates some of the bright sound of Stravinsky’s ballets that came just a few years later. All the singers are good here, with strong, clear vocal sound, excellent diction, and a good understanding of their roles. The CD doesn’t come with a libretto but has a good synopsis, and a weblink is provided. Don Quichotte à Dulcinée, three songs on texts by Paul Morand, is Ravel’s last work (1933); the orchestral version heard here is a rarity, a sparkling accompaniment to Le Roux’s handsome declamation.
–Mark DeVoto