Without André Grétry (1741-1813) there wouldn’t be opera as we know it. The first French composer to successfully marry French and Italian styles in the Classical period, Grétry’s melodic and dramatic gifts coupled with a strong desire to push opera to its limits ensured his lasting fame.
First performed at Versailles in 1778 before Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette, L’Amant Jaloux, ou Les Fausses Apparences (The Jealous Lover, or False Appearances) was an immediate success. The setting is Cadiz, Spain. The rich Don Lopez (baritone David Greco) forbids his widowed daughter Léonore (soprano Celeste Lazarenko) to marry again. But she is in love with the eponymous jealous lover, Don Alonze (tenor Ed Lyon), who has a sister Isabelle (soprano Alexandra Oomens), who is Léonore’s friend and the beloved of French officer Florival (tenor Andrew Goodwin). Without giving too much away, much mayhem ensues before the happy ending.
Erin Helyard directs cast and orchestra – both of which are uniformly excellent – from the keyboard with great attention to detail yet with a sure grasp of forward momentum. We also get snippets of English dialogue which must have made live performances from which this recording was made an absolute joy, as well as two Entr’actes in the form of a movement from a Hummel Mandolin Concerto and Grétry’s own Flute Concerto in C. This is fun music-making at its serious best.