I know Tomas Bretón as one of the best zarzuela composers and his La Verbena de la Paloma regularly ends up in my CD player. From La Dolores, I knew – until not so long ago – only one aria and a single duet, as those belong to my Domingo collection.
Plácido Domingo sings ‘Jota’ from La Dolores:
This CD was a very exciting and very pleasant first encounter with the complete work and I sat up straight at the very first notes. The beautiful colours that the orchestra here displayed could only be the work of an important maestro.
The prelude strongly reminded me of Cavalleria Rusticana, which was only reinforced by the choral part that followed. But just when I thought I had heard it all before (besides the already mentioned ‘Cavalleria’, I also thought I recognised ‘Carmen’), it took a totally different turn.
Yes, it is unmistakably Spanish and often I was also reminded of El Gato Montés by Manuel Penella Moreno, especially in the brilliant scenes preceding the bullfight. But what most surprised me: why was La Dolores not recorded earlier? The first performance in 1895 was a huge success and the opera was even filmed.
Manuel Lanza (no relation) has a beautiful baritone voice that reminded me strongly of Carlos Álvarez.
Tito Beltrán has recorded a few solo CDs since 1993, when he won the Cardiff Competition, and it felt good to hear him in a complete opera recording.
And Plácido Domingo is, as (almost) always, superior.
The main interest, however, lies in the music itself and it is to be hoped that the Decca recording from 1999 is still for sale, because I gave up hope of ever hearing it live a long time ago
Tomas Bretón La Dolores Elisabete Matos, Raquel Pierotti, Plácido Domingo, Tito Beltrán, Manuel Lanza, Stefano Palatchi Cor del Gran Teatre del Liceu, Orquestra Simfònica de Barcelona i National de Catalunya olv Antoni Ros Marbà Decca 4660612