Gounod: La Colombe


2 disc set
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Sir Mark Elder’s second Opera Rara release of 2015 features a rare recording – Gounod’s delightful opera La Colombe (“The Dove”).

Catalogue Number: ORC53 Categories: ,
  1. Introduction Gounod, C Buy Track 0:30
  2. Sylvie, Sylvie! Venez-la ma mignonne! Gounod, C Buy Track 0:30
  3. Voila qui est fait Gounod, C Buy Track 0:30
  4. Qu'il garde son argent! Gounod, C Buy Track 0:30
  5. Voyons, seigneur, ecoutez un moment la raison Gounod, C Buy Track 0:30
  6. Les amoureux Gounod, C Buy Track 0:30
  7. Allons retrouver madame la comtesse Gounod, C Buy Track 0:30
  8. Je veux interroger ce jeune homme Gounod, C Buy Track 0:30
  9. Ah! Les femmes! Les femmes Gounod, C Buy Track 0:30
  10. Et ton maitre partage Gounod, C Buy Track 0:30
  11. O vision enchanteresse! Gounod, C Buy Track 0:30
  12. Bref, cher seigneur, je suis tout a fait ravie Gounod, C Buy Track 0:30
  13. O douce joie! Gounod, C Buy Track 0:30
  14. Entr'acte Gounod, C Buy Track 0:30
  15. Le grand art de cuisine Gounod, C Buy Track 0:30
  16. Les fournisseurs refusent Gounod, C Buy Track 0:30
  17. Il faut d'abord dresser la table! Gounod, C Buy Track 0:30
  18. Me voila retombee dans une etrange reverie! Gounod, C Buy Track 0:30
  19. Que de reves charmants emportes sans retour! Gounod, C Buy Track 0:30
  20. Je vous cherche depuis une heure Gounod, C Buy Track 0:30
  21. Ces attraits que chacun admire Gounod, C Buy Track 0:30
  22. La deesse aujourd'hui se nomme Amynte Gounod, C Buy Track 0:30
  23. Mais non, quand nous aurons dine Gounod, C Buy Track 0:30
  24. Helas, seigneur, pardonnez-moi Gounod, C Buy Track 0:30
  25. Apaisez, blanche colombe Gounod, C Buy Track 0:30


Following his award-winning recording of Donizetti’s Les Martyrs, Sir Mark Elder’s second Opera Rara release of 2015 features a rare recording – Gounod’s delightful opera La Colombe (“The Dove”). Sir Mark and the Hallé are joined by a wonderful cast, led by two of the most acclaimed young singers in the world today – Erin Morley and Javier Camarena along with the established French baritone Laurent Naouri and mezzo Michèle Losier.

  • Winner of 2016 Prix Albert Roussel from the Académie du Disque Lyrique
  • Manchester Evening News, Top CDs of 2015
  • MusicWeb International, Recording of the Month


Erin Morley (Sylvie), Javier Camarena (Horace), Laurent Naouri (Maître Jean), Michèle Losier (Mazet)
The Halle
Sir Mark Elder, conductor


01 Introduction
02 Sylvie, Sylvie! Venez-la ma mignonne!
03 Voila qui est fait
04 Qu’il garde son argent!
05 Voyons, seigneur, ecoutez un moment la raison
06 Les amoureux
07 Allons retrouver madame la comtesse
08 Je veux interroger ce jeune homme
09 Ah! Les femmes! Les femmes
10 Et ton maitre partage
11 O vision enchanteresse!
12 Bref, cher seigneur, je suis tout a fait ravie
13 O douce joie!
14 Entr’acte
15 Le grand art de cuisine
16 Les fournisseurs refusent
17 Il faut d’abord dresser la table!
18 Me voila retombee dans une etrange reverie!
19 Que de reves charmants emportes sans retour!
20 Je vous cherche depuis une heure
21 Ces attraits que chacun admire
22 La deesse aujourd’hui se nomme Amynte
23 Mais non, quand nous aurons dine
24 Helas, seigneur, pardonnez-moi
25 Apaisez, blanche colombe


Act I
A young Florentine, Horace, has retired to the country having lavished all his wealth on the vain pursuit of the beautiful Countess Sylvie. He is accompanied by his godson Mazet and his dove (the ‘colombe’) which he has named Sylvie. They are living in penury in a run-down cottage. The bird, however, is not allowed to starve, so Mazet gives it his daily feed (no. 1 Couplets) and takes it outside. Maître Jean knocks and is sourly greeted by Mazet. He has come to enquire about a certain dove that Horace is reputed to own. Mazet describes the bird’s uncommon gifts: it is supremely intelligent, never delivering messages to the wrong address, able to arrange the letters of her name in the right order, and so on. Maître Jean explains that his master, Count Lélio from Pavia, is desperate to buy the bird at any price. When Horace appears, Mazet urges Maître Jean to hide while he opens negotiations. Mazet likes the idea of living in comfort but Horace adamantly refuses any suggestion of selling Sylvie (no. 2 Romance and Trio). Horace goes off and calls for Mazet to follow. Reappearing from his hiding-place Maître Jean sings of the absurdities to which love can lead (no. 3 Couplets). As he is leaving he reveals that he was really sent by the Countess Sylvie, who then appears in person and asks how his offer was received. Firmly refused! But Horace’s tender feelings for the dove, in the view of Maître Jean, suggest that he is still in love with the real Sylvie. Sylvie explains that her rival, Aminte, is the darling of all Florence because she has a parrot that talks and sings. Only by recovering her dove can Sylvie hope to win back her respected place in Florentine society. Maître Jean leaves. Sylvie’s Air (no. 4) affirms her faith in the power of her beauty. Mazet enters and believing Sylvie to be an unknown woman who has strayed into the cottage, lets loose a tirade against all women (no. 5 Couplets). Horace, Mazet tells her, is particularly bitter about the Countess Sylvie and would vent his rage on her if he ever saw her. Sylvie explains to an embarrassed Mazet that she is Sylvie herself. Horace then appears and on seeing Sylvie is enchanted with delight (to Sylvie’s astonishment). In the Terzetto (no. 6) she realizes that Horace is still in her power. She invites herself to dinner. Maître Jean appears, and without explaining that he was sent by her, Sylvie reveals that he is a master chef who will solve the problem of dinner. The Finale – Quartet (no. 7) closes the Act.

After an Entr’acte, the second act opens on the same scene, later in the day. Maître Jean is ready to cook the meal, but there is no food to cook. He sings in praise of the noble art of cooking (no. 8 Air). Mazet reveals that he has only beans to offer. Maître Jean goes off in despair. Horace comes in determined to find a solution to the slender provision of tableware and the absence of food (no. 9 Duo). Mazet finds a few grapes, then Horace goes off and returns with a bird for the oven. It is the dove Sylvie who is called upon to die for the sake of Horace’s love. Mazet goes off to slaughter the bird and Horace goes in search of wine. Sylvie enters, full of regret that she has treated Horace so poorly (no. 10 Romance). Maître Jean agrees to a dinner of beans since Sylvie reminds him that she may yet recover the dove. Horace has found some wine. When she tells him she has not received a single compliment since he left Florence, he sings a Madrigal (no. 11) in praise of her beauty. She tells him about Aminte and her clever parrot. A Quartettino (no. 12) gives everyone a chance to worry about their respective problems. Then Horace and Sylvie sit down to dinner (Duo no. 13) during which Sylvie finally explains to Horace that she would like the dove for herself. The bird is dead, explains a horrified Horace, and we have dined on her. Sylvie responds not with shock but with admiration that Horace could make such a sacrifice out of love for her. The happy ending (no. 14 Finale) is made happier for all when Mazet comes in with the dove Sylvie. It was not dove that they ate, he explains, it was parrot; and not just any parrot, it was Aminte’s parrot.


Atto I
Horace, un giovane fiorentino, che si è completamente rovinato per corteggiare la bella contessa Sylvie, si è ritirato in campagna con il figlioccio Mazet e una colomba dal nome Sylvie. Vivono nella miseria in una casa diroccata. La colomba è l’unica a non soffrire: Mazet le dà da mangiare tutti i giorni (no. 1 Romance) e la porta fuori. Bussa alla porta Maître Jean, per chiedere notizie della colomba che immagina appartenga a Horace. Mazet lo accoglie con freddezza, ma descrive le doti eccezionali dell’animale, che è intelligentissimo, non consegna mai messaggi all’indirizzo sbagliato, riesce a disporre le lettere nel giusto ordine e così via. Maître Jean spiega che il suo padrone, il conte Lélio di Pavia, è disposto ad acquistarlo a qualunque prezzo. Sopraggiunge Horace, e Mazet chiede a Maître Jean di nascondersi per consentirgli di avviare le trattative. Mazet desidera una vita comoda, ma Horace rifiuta recisamente ogni suggerimento di vendere Sylvie (n. 2 Romance e Trio). Horace esce e chiede a Mazet di seguirlo. Maître Jean riemerge dal suo nascondiglio ed elenca le assurdità a cui può portare l’amore (n. 3 Ariette). Mentre sta per uscire svela il nome del suo vero emissario: la Contessa Sylvie. La donna compare in persona per sapere come è stata accolta la sua offerta. Nonostante il tassativo rifiuto, Maître Jean sospetta che a giudicare dai suoi sentimenti per la colomba, Horace sia ancora innamorato della contessa. Sylvie spiega che la sua rivale, Aminte, fa furore a Firenze perché possiede un pappagallo che sa parlare e cantare. Per poter sperare di riconquistare il proprio prestigio nella società fiorentina Sylvie deve assolutamente recuperare la sua colomba. Maître Jean si allontana. L’Air (n. 4) di Sylvie ribadisce la sua fede nella Potenza della propria bellezza. Entra Mazet e, pensando che Sylvie sia un’intrusa che si è smarrita ed è entrata in casa sua, si abbandona a una filippica contro tutte le donne (n. 5 Couplets). Inoltre le dice che Horace è molto deluso della Contessa Sylvie e se la vedesse andrebbe su tutte le furie. La donna rivela la propria identità lasciando Mazet in preda all’imbarazzo. Quindi compare Horace e alla vista di Sylvie è felicissimo (con grande stupore di Sylvie). Nel Terzetto (n. 6) la donna si rende conto che Horace è ancora in suo potere e si invita subito a cena. Entra Maître Jean e, senza spiegare che è stata lei a mandarlo, Sylvie rivela che è un cuoco eccellente in grado di occuparsi della cena. L’Atto si conclude con il Finale – Quatuor (n. 7) Entr’acte.

Atto II
Dopo un intermezzo, il secondo atto si apre sulla stessa scena, più tardi. Maître Jean è pronto a preparare la cena, ma non trova niente da cucinare. Canta le lodi della nobile arte della cucina (no. 8 Air). Mazet rivela che in dispensa ha solo dei fagioli. Maître Jean esce in preda alla disperazione. Entra Horace, deciso a trovare una soluzione alla carenza di vasellame e all’assenza di ingredienti commestibili (n. 9 Duo – n. 9bis Mélodrame). Mazet trova dell’uva, poi Horace esce e ritorna con un volatile da cuocere al forno: è la colomba, che deve morire per amore di Horace. Mazet si allontana per uccidere la colomba e Horace va in cerca di vino. Entra Sylvie in preda al rimorso per aver maltrattato Horace (n. 10 Romance). Maître Jean accetta di preparare una cena a base di fagioli quando Sylvie gli ricorda che ha ancora una possibilità di ritrovare la colomba. Horace ha recuperato del vino. Quando la donna gli dice che non ha ricevuto un solo complimento da quando è partita da Firenze, le canta un Madrigal (n. 11) in omaggio alla sua bellezza. Lei gli racconta di Aminte e del suo pappagallo intelligente. Un Quartettino (n. 12) offre a tutti la possibilità di esprimere i propri problemi personali. Poi Horace e Sylvie si siedono a tavola (Duo n. 13) e nel frattempo Sylvie finalmente chiede a Horace la colomba. Inorridito, Horace spiega che l’animale è morto ed entrambi l’hanno mangiato. Sylvie non è scioccata, ma reagisce con ammirazione al sacrificio che Horace ha fatto per amore. Il prevedibile lieto fine (n. 14 Finale) è ancora più allegro quando Mazet entra con la colomba Sylvie. Non è stata cucinata la colomba, spiega, ma un pappagallo, e neanche un pappagallo qualunque, ma quello di Aminte.


1. Akt
Der junge Florentiner Horace hat sein ganzes Vermögen drangegeben, um die schöne Gräfin Sylvie zu umwerben, doch vergebens. Nun hat er sich in Begleitung seines Patensohns Mazet und seiner Taube (der „Colombe“), die er auf den Namen Sylvie getauft hat, aufs Land zurückgezogen, wo die Drei verarmt in einem heruntergekommenen Häuschen leben. Der Vogel jedoch darf nicht hungern, und so gibt Mazet ihm täglich sein Fressen (Nr. 1, Romance) und ergeht sich mit ihm an der frischen Luft. Als Maître Jean vor dem Häuschen erscheint, wird er mürrisch von Mazet begrüßt. Er ist gekommen, um sich nach einer Taube zu erkundigen, die Horace angeblich besitzt. Mazet schildert deren außergewöhnlichen Fähigkeiten: Sie sei ausgesprochen intelligent, stelle Botschaften nie an der falschen Adresse zu, könne die Buchstaben ihres Namens richtig anordnen und derlei mehr. Maître Jean erklärt, dass sein Herr, ein Graf Lélio aus Pavia, den Vogel um jeden Preis kaufen möchte. Als Horace hinzukommt, drängt Mazet den Besucher, sich zu verstecken, während er die Verhandlungen in die Wege leitet, denn Mazet würde gerne wieder in Luxus leben, Horace jedoch weigert sich kategorisch, Sylvie zu verkaufen (Nr. 2 Romance und Trio). Horace geht davon und bittet Mazet, ihm zu folgen. Daraufhin verlässt Maître Jean sein Versteck und singt von den Verrücktheiten, zu denen die Liebe Menschen verleiten kann (Nr. 3, Ariette). Beim Gehen offenbart er, dass er in Wirklichkeit von Gräfin Sylvie geschickt wurde, die in dem Moment selbst erscheint und sich nach dem Ergebnis seiner Anfrage erkundigt. Strikt abgelehnt! Allerdings, so Maître Jean, bewiesen Horaces Gefühle für die Taube, dass er nach wie vor in die echte Sylvie verliebt sei. Nun erzählt Sylvie von ihrer großen Rivalin Aminte, die sie in der Florentiner Gesellschaft ausgestochen habe durch ihren Papagei, der sprechen und singen könne. Nur mit Hilfe der Taube, so glaubt Sylvie, werde sie ihre Position in Florenz wiedergewinnen. Maître Jean geht davon, und Sylvie verleiht in einer Air (Nr. 4) ihrer Überzeugung Ausdruck, dass sie ihr Ziel dank ihrer Schönheit doch noch erreichen werde. Mazet kommt hinzu, er hält Sylvie für eine Unbekannte, die durch Zufall hierher geraten sei, und ergeht sich in einer Tirade über alle Frauen (Nr. 5, Couplets). Besondere Bitterkeit empfände Horace, so Mazet, gegenüber der Gräfin Sylvie, über die er seinen ganzen Zorn ausschütten würde, sollte er ihrer ansichtig werden. Sylvie klärt den betretenen Mazet auf, dass sie selbst diese Sylvie ist. Da tritt Horace hinzu und ist – zu Sylvies Verwunderung – entzückt, sie zu sehen. Im Terzetto (Nr. 6) wird ihr klar, dass Horace ihr noch immer verfallen ist. Sie lädt sich selbst zum Essen ein. Nun kommt auch Maître Jean hinzu, und Sylvie erklärt – ohne preiszugeben, dass sie selbst ihn hergeschickt hat –, dass er ein Meisterkoch sei, der das Problem des Essens lösen werde. Der Akt endet mit dem Quatuor (Nr. 7).

2. Akt
Nach dem Entr’acte hebt sich der Vorhang vor derselben Szene, aber später am Tag. Maître Jean will sich ans Kochen machen, doch es gibt nichts, woraus er ein Essen zubereiten könnte. In einer Air (Nr. 8) besingt er die hehre Kunst des Kochens. Mazet gesteht, dass er nichts als Bohnen anzubieten habe, woraufhin Maître Jean verzweifelt davongeht. Horace hingegen ist entschlossen, das Problem des bescheidenen Tischgedecks und der fehlenden Lebensmittel zu lösen (Nr. 9, Duo, Nr. 9bis Mélodrame). Mazet findet einige Trauben, Horace geht davon und kehrt mit einem Vogel zurück, der gebraten werden soll: die Taube Sylvie, die um seiner Liebe willen sterben soll. Mazet zieht sich zurück, um den Vogel zu schlachten, und Horace begibt sich auf die Suche nach Wein. Sylvie erscheint und bedauert, Horace früher so schmählich behandelt zu haben (Nr. 10, Romance). Als sie Maître Jean von ihrer Hoffnung berichtet, die Taube doch noch zu bekommen, erklärt er sich bereit, ein Gericht aus Bohnen zuzubereiten. Horace, der mit etwas Wein zurückkehrt, wird von Sylvie mit der Bemerkung empfangen, sie habe seit seinem Fortgang aus Florenz kein einziges Kompliment bekommen, woraufhin er in einem Madrigal (Nr. 11) ihre Schönheit besingt. Sie berichtet ihm von Aminte und deren klugem Papagei. Nachdem ein Quartettino (Nr. 12) allen Gelegenheit bot, über ihre jeweiligen Probleme zu sinnieren, setzen Horace und Sylvie sich zu Tisch (Nr. 13, Duo), und beim Essen schließlich gesteht sie ihm, dass sie die Taube gerne selbst besitzen würde. Der Vogel sei tot, erklärt Horace bestürzt, sie hätten ihn soeben verspeist. Diese Offenbarung entsetzt Sylvie jedoch nicht, im Gegenteil, sie ist bezaubert, dass Horace aus Liebe zu ihr zu einem derartigen Opfer bereit gewesen sei. Das glückliche Ende (Finale, Nr. 14) wird noch glücklicher, als Mazet mit der Taube Sylvie hereinkommt. Sie hätten nicht Taube gegessen, erklärt er, sondern Papagei, und auch nicht jeden Papagei, sondern den Vogel Amintes.


Acte I
Le jeune Horace a quitté Florence pour se retirer à la campagne après avoir dépensé toute sa fortune à courtiser en vain la belle comtesse Sylvie. Il y vit avec son filleul Mazet et sa colombe, laquelle porte le nom de sa bien-aimée Sylvie. Ils vivent pauvrement dans une chaumière délabrée. L’oiseau n’en meurt pas de faim pour autant. Mazet lui donne à manger tous les jours (n° 1 Romance) et lui fait prendre l’air. Maître Jean, venu frapper à la porte, est reçu avec désobligeance par Mazet. L’objet de sa visite est une certaine colombe qu’Horace est réputé posséder. Mazet décrit les dons exceptionnels du volatile : elle est suprêmement intelligente, ne se trompe jamais d’adresse quand on lui confie un message, sait dans quel ordre mettre les lettres de son nom, et ainsi de suite. Maître Jean explique que son maître, le comte Lélio de Pavie, tient à tout prix à acheter l’oiseau. À l’arrivée d’Horace, Mazet presse Maître Jean de se cacher pendant qu’il entame les négociations. Mazet aimerait vivre plus confortablement, mais Horace refuse catégoriquement de vendre Sylvie (n° 2 Romance et Trio). Horace quitte la scène en appelant à Mazet à le suivre. Sortant de sa cachette, Maître Jean chante les folies auxquelles l’amour entraîne (n° 3 Ariette). Au moment de partir, il révèle qu’il est venu, en fait, sur les ordres de la comtesse, laquelle apparaît alors pour s’enquérir de la manière dont son offre a été accueillie. Par un refus catégorique ! Mais, selon Maître Jean, la tendresse qu’Horace nourrit pour la colombe suggère qu’il est toujours amoureux de la vraie Sylvie. Sylvie explique que tout le monde à Florence adore sa rivale, Aminte, parce qu’elle possède un perroquet qui parle et qui chante. Aussi espère-t-elle retrouver la place de choix qu’elle occupait dans la société en acquérant la colombe. Maître Jean sort. Sylvie croit au pouvoir de ses charmes pour arriver à ses fins (n° 4 Air). À son retour, Mazet trouve Sylvie dans la chaumière et, la prenant pour une inconnue qui s’est égarée, se lance dans une diatribe contre les femmes en général (n° 5 Couplets). Horace, dit Mazet, est plein de rancœur envers la comtesse Sylvie et lui dirait toute sa rage s’il venait à la rencontrer. Sylvie révèle son identité à un Mazet bien embarrassé. Horace arrive sur ces entrefaites et se montre ravi de voir Sylvie – au grand étonnement de celle-ci. Elle comprend qu’elle a encore du pouvoir sur lui (n° 6 Terzetto), et s’invite à dîner. Maître Jean apparaît, mais sans dire qu’il est aux ordres de Sylvie, et celle-ci le présente comme un grand cuisinier qui saura régler la question du repas. L’acte se clôt sur un Quatuor (n° 7).

Acte II
Après l’Entr’acte, le rideau se lève sur le même décor, mais un peu plus tard dans la journée. Au moment de préparer le repas, Maître Jean constate qu’il n’y a rien à faire cuire. Il chante l’art de la cuisine (n° 8 Air). Mazet lui révèle qu’il n’a que des haricots pour toute nourriture. Maître Jean s’éloigne désespéré. Horace arrive bien décidé à trouver une solution au manque de vaisselle et à l’absence de nourriture (n° 9 Duo, n° 9bis Mélodrame). Mazet trouve un peu de raisin, Horace sort et rapporte un oiseau à manger. C’est la colombe Sylvie, qui va à mourir au nom de son amour pour la comtesse. Mazet l’emporte pour la tuer et Horace va chercher du vin. Sylvie arrive pleine de regrets pour la misérable façon dont elle a traité Horace (n° 10 Romance). Maître Jean s’apprête à préparer les haricots puisque Sylvie lui rappelle qu’il est encore possible de récupérer la colombe. Horace a trouvé du vin. Lorsqu’elle se plaint que personne ne lui a fait le moindre compliment depuis son départ de Florence, il lui chante un Madrigal (n° 11) en l’honneur de sa beauté. Elle lui parle d’Aminte et de son brillant perroquet. Un Quartettino (n° 12) permet à chacun d’exprimer ses inquiétudes. Puis Horace et Sylvie se mettent à table (n° 13 Duo). Sylvie en profite pour dire à Horace qu’elle voudrait posséder la colombe. Mais l’oiseau est mort, lui répond un Horace épouvanté, et nous venons de le manger. Sylvie n’en est pas choquée et admire plutôt la manière dont Horace s’est livré à un tel sacrifice pour elle. Ce dénouement inespéré (n° 14 Final) est d’autant plus heureux pour tout le monde que Mazet arrive alors avec la colombe Sylvie. Ce n’est pas la colombe qu’ils ont mangé, explique-t-il, c’est un perroquet et, de plus est, le perroquet d’Aminte.

Press Reviews

The score is light-weight but evocative, and Elder... injects urgency and as required and encourages orchestral delicacies - such as the overture’s lovely cello solo, and the fine horn playing - including a fantastic sustained trill - that complements it. Elder appreciates the score’s harmonic sentiments and admits an appropriate degree of romantic schmaltz, while keeping things waltzing along in a manner sensitive to the singers’ needs. The sound engineers ensure that all is cleanly delivered.

Opera Today

With 'La Colombe', Opera Rara follows up Fantasio (released in 2014) with another French comedy from the third quarter of the 19th-century... Erin Morley offers a splendid portrayal of the capricious Sylvie which appealingly balances the countess’s assertive movements, including a brilliant waltz, with some lovely expressive singing... All unfolds smoothly under Mark Elder’s affectionate leadership.


And last of all, Mark Elder conducts the Hallé with finesse. This wonderful team allows “La Colombe” to gracefully take flight.

Opéra magazine

One hero of this admirable Opera Rara release is Mark Elder, utterly committed to Gounod’s score and coaxing elegant music-making from the Hallé.

BBC Music Magazine

At the helm of the clean and expressive sounding Hallé, Sir Mark Elder brings, on his part, what’s necessary in terms of vitality, edge and elegance to this music. This recording is the only way for now to discover this rare work under such excellent conditions...


A new recording of Gouonod’s La Colombe comes from the ever-reliable Opera Rara... The music is pretty, and very well-played by the Hallé under Mark Elder, who conjures some sensitive phrasing from his players...

Opera Now

For more than 40 years, English-based Opera Rara, founded “on the conviction that there is an inexhaustible mine of fascinating, yet undeservedly forgotten, 19th-century Italian and French operatic,” has been exploring little-known works by luminaries like Donizetti as well as those by composers such as Pacini and Ricci... Their latest project takes us back to 19th-century Paris... Typical of the genre, there’s lots of dialogue; but that only throws the superbly characterised vocal performances of the singers – and the Hallé’s light, responsive handling of the score under Elder – into even sharper relief.


Yet I can’t give Opera Rara’s affectionate recording the bird. Mark Elder conducts a nimble Hallé with lovely, lively affection... The opera ends with the revelation that the parrot, not the dove, has snuffed it, a Pythonesque twist – and enough to persuade us that Gounod has pulled off (at least for most opera-goers today) something completely different.


Mark Elder is the fine, propulsive conductor of Opera Rara’s newest worthy discovery, Gounod’s light but effective comic opera La Colombe,,, Elder’s orchestral forces in this June 2015 taping sparkle; this opera may not attain (or deserve) repertory status, but this strongly cast rendering will surely entertain fans of classic opéra-comique.

Opera News

Sir Mark has recorded the original French (in the summer this year) with a talented cast and... the music delightful and the orchestral playing wonderful...

Manchester Evening News

It is the slightly longer, second version of the piece that Opera Rara presents in this superior performance conducted by Mark Elder, with the Hallé doing the orchestral honours... the opera [is] delivered with absolute Gallic clarity, vitality and point.


...Erin Morley’s bright Sylvie, Michele Losier’s Cherubino-like Mazet and, above all, Laurent Naouri’s Maître Jean, are excellent. The work is a little gem.

The Sunday Times

Opera Rara continues to do sterling work in resurrecting and recording forgotten operatic repertoire of the 19th-century. Following hard on the heels of their award-winning recording of Donizetti’s Les Martyrs is Gounod’s La Colombe which is Sir Mark Elder’s second release for the label in 2015... Outstandingly chosen, all the four soloists have strikingly differentiated voices and make conspicuous and rewarding contributions... The engineering team provide excellent sound which is especially clear and detailed with a well-judged balance. In the generously detailed booklet the essay by Hugh Macdonald, as authoritative as I have come to expect from this label, is interesting and instructive. I will not be alone in expressing gratitude to Opera Rara for providing full French texts with an English translation in the handsome booklet.

MusicWeb International

Mark Elder (music director of the Halle and artistic director of Opera Rara) and the Halle bring a deftness of touch to the music along with the requisite pin-sharp playing which makes me look forward to further Opera Rara discs from this ensemble.

Planet Hugill

With Mark Elder installed as Artistic Director, Opera Rara continues to burrow away in the byways of the 19th-century French and Italian repertoires, and its latest offering is a slight but charming opéra-comique by Gounod... Elder’s performance has just the right light touch too, always keeping its tongue ever so slightly in its cheek, and the dialogue goes with an easy fluency... Modest though it is, a rarity like this couldn’t be served much better by a recording.

The Guardian

And finally, one must highlight, as always with recordings produced by Opera Rara that the quality of sound is excellent. Let’s hope that La Colombe is the start of many new French opera recordings by Opera Rara!

Forum Opéra

It is not surprising for an Opera Rara release to provide listeners with opportunities to savor little-known scores as their composers intended them to be performed, but even among the treasures in the label’s discography this recording of La Colombe is especially valuable... Opera Rara’s 'La Colombe' is what every opera recording should aspire to be: a performance that explores every nuance of the composer’s score and the librettists’ text with appropriate style and musicality.


Gounod’s light-hearted opéra comique... needs zest in the musical performance and some native French input to the spoken dialogue for it to lift off. Both are on display here in a skilful performance from the Hallé under Mark Elder’s precise baton and an able cast of four, led by France’s leading light of comic opera, Laurent Naouri.

Financial Times

Awards & Accolades

  • Winner of 2016 Prix Albert Roussel from the Académie du Disque Lyrique
  • Manchester Evening News, Top CDs of 2015
  • MusicWeb International, Recording of the Month