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** ADAM: "Le Toreador." Sumi Jo, soprano; others. Orchestra of Welsh National Opera. Richard Bonynge, conductor. (London)

June 21, 1998|Chris Pasles

Adolphe Adam is known today mostly as composer of the ballet "Giselle" and the Christmas carol "Cantique de Noel" (O Holy Night). But he wrote a considerable number of stage works, including this once quite successful comic opera. (It premiered in Paris in 1849.)

The slight plot involves an eternal triangle: a young wife, an old husband, a young lover. The music is light and graceful, though it makes great virtuosic demands on the soprano.

Sumi Jo sings the wife, Coraline, with a finely drawn and vibrant soprano, but her voice sparkles only in the coloratura. (Caroline's considerable spoken part is taken by Veronique Vella.)

John Aler brings an ardent tenor to the role of the young lover Tracolin, but occasionally sounds effortful in the heights. Baritone Michel Trempont is strong as the self-satisfied husband, Don Belflor, the retired toreador.

Dedicated as he is to this repertory, Bonynge conducts with buoyancy and grace, but the work rather quickly exhausts its charm and appeal.

*

Albums are rated on a scale of one star (poor), two stars (fair), three stars (good) and four stars (excellent).

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