Following the Second World War, Menotti was America’s most acclaimed opera composer. He has a brilliant sense of theatre which combines with an intuitive grasp of character and situation. He was also something of a prodigy, having composed his first opera at the age of eleven. Encouraged by Toscanini, he went to the Curtis Institute (Philadelphia) where he met Samuel Barber, who became his close companion. A double-bill of The Medium (1945) and The Telephone (1946) proved a huge success, helped by Toscanini’s advocacy of these and his other works. The gripping drama of The Consul (1949) was another major success, reinforcing Menotti’s high profile, whilst Amahl and the Night Visitors (1951) earned him mass popularity as a work specially written for television. Following that success, he composed further operas for television, inluding Martin’s Lie (1964).
Though the effectiveness of his operas has never been in question, his style of music fell out of favour during the 1970’s, but the tide has now turned. On this recording, the rarely heard Five songs for Tenor and piano and Canti della Iontananz show how effective Menotti was as a writer of songs, and in Martin’s Lie - a compulsive and gripping one-act opera we can understand why hw was so successful as an opera composer.
»... Hickox and the Northern Sinfonia bring the score alive...The treble Connor Burrowes is cast as martin, and the chorus of his fellow orphans is sung with vigour and a refreshingly un-cathedral-like sound by the Tees Valley Boys’ Choir. Burrowes has a sparkling voice and sings with great sensitivity ... the cast give good, well-characterized performances...«
Erica Jeal - Opera - December 1998
»...The opera’s lean score is of great simplicity and transparency, and these qualities plus this sympathetic performance lend it pathos and transform it inot a touching listening experience, especially in this fine recording featuring baritone Alan Opie as the Stranger and tenor Robin Leggate as Father Cornelius... Both groups of songs are more sophisticated in their dramatic and musicl ideas that Martin’s Lie and more tonally astringent... Judith Howarth and Robin Leggate are joined by pianist Malcolm Martineau in creating these chohesive, convincing performances...« John Ardoin - Dallas Morning News - 28 June 1998
»...Hickox again directs with committe zeal, this time with the Northern Sinfonia and a small cast including Alan Opie and Matthew Best who bring the story convincingly to life.« Michael Dungan - Classical Ireland - Summer / Autumn 1999
»...This world premiere British performance ... is excellent.« Daily Review - USA - 5 May 1998
E. Pluta in KLASSIK heute 8 / 98: »In dieser Ersteinspielung wird die gekonnt eklektische Musik auf einem Niveau präsentiert, das ästhetische Bedenken verstummen läßt. Bessere Anwälte für seine Musik als Richard Hickox und die Northern Sinfonia hätte Menotti auch in Amerika nicht finden können.«
Martin's Lie (Maratins Lüge, Opera da chiesa) (Gesamtaufnahme)
Naninga "So he touched the first door ..."
Fugative "Open, open!"
Sheriff "You filthy blackguards"
Father Cornelius "Martin, my boy ..."
Sheriff "I've had enough of this"
Naninga, Children & Father Cornelius "Heavenly Father"