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Stravinsky: Oedipus Rex (1923) Les Noces (1927)

Maxim Mogilevsky, Yulia Zaichkina, Andrei Serov, Alexander Timchenko, Mlada Khudoley,
Olga Savova, Svetlana Smolina, Alexander Mogilevsky, Ekaterina Sementchuk,
Sergey Semishkur, Evgeny Nikitin, Gérard Depardieu

Mariinsky Theater Ensemble/Orchestra & Chorus/Valery Gergiev

Mariinsky MAR 0510

This is a lavish production from the Mariinsky's St Petersburg base, with a British recording producer; Gergiev had been touring Oedipus internationally.

It benefits from Russian voices, even though the Two Act opera Oedipus Rex is sung in Latin (with the narration, Gérard Depardieu, as prescribed, in French). For the Dance Cantata Les Noces you have the Cyrillic text (with a pronunciation glossary !) and English translation, which gives you the gist OK, though following line by line is hard. No matter, the settings are generalised, not following details of the text. Very exciting and good sound.

So is the Oedipus Rex; here you are given double page spreads of the text (which is important to follow) in Latin & English (framed by Cyrillic and French). That arrangement is excellent, and probably better than coping with surtitles in the theatre.

These are key works from transitional stages of Stravinsky's career and these accounts can be recommended, even if you have others already. My only reservation was the Jocasta, who sounds as if she has plums in her mouth; but her singing role is fairly small and the crucial scenes are given in narrative form with the magnificent chorus taking a major part.

Peter Grahame Woolf

See also Mariinsky Theatre/Gergiev in Shchedrin's opera The Enchanted Wanderer