Hélène and Nuit persane

Patricia Kelly
The Courier Mail (Australia)
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This recording project, an Australian masterpiece, is loaded with history. French composer Camille Saint-Saëns was so incensed when Jacques Offenbach gave the ancient Helen of Troy legend such flippant treatment in La belle Hélène that he determined to give to the face that launched a thousand ships the glory it deserved. Enter Australia’s diva Dame Nellie Melba and versatile Saint-Saëns was inspired.

In 1904 his Hélène premiered at Monte Carlo Opera, Melba singing the heroine. Then the opera was forgotten until Melba Foundation CEO Maria Vandamme found a copy in the dust-covered archives of Monte Carlo. She knew it was an ideal Melba project for international release.

Queensland should be celebrating the glorious singing of its star Leanne Kenneally whose soprano soars to limpid heights as Venus alongside Rosamund Illing (Hélène), Steve Davislim (Pâris) and Zan McKendree-Wright (Pallas)