Meyerbeer: L'Africaine (In English) - Harper, Veasey, Thomas; Wurmser. London, 1963
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Bloodless conducting of a full-blooded opera can be excused only when the singing is of first-rate quality. Such is the case here. Leo Wurmser may make Meyerbeer sound like Arthur Sullivan (a quality not helped by Geoffrey Dunn's fussy English translation), but with Heather Harper, Raimund Herincx, Josephine Veasey and Robert Thomas on hand, life is breathed into Meyerbeer's exotic scenario. Neither Veasey nor Thomas can be called paragons of English, but she is endlessly, effortlessly lyrical in Sélika's long legato lines, and he is equally at home in Vasco de Gama's more lyrical moments as well as his bold, Otello-like declamations before the Grand Inquisitor. Heather Harper's creamy soprano, a nice contrast to Veasey's darker instrument, rounds out the love triangle nicely. Herincx's rendition of Nélusko's storm aria has a nicely sinister undercurrent to the jocularity, and he has the best diction in the cast. The sound, taken from the radio, is generally good, but unfortunately several minutes are missing from the beginning of Act V.