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Power of Love

The Weekend Australian (Australia)
Deborah Jones

Not another lot of arias, you might groan, sated as you are on selections from Verdi, Puccini and Handel. Well, this one is different, and quite delicious. Conductor Richard Bonynge, noted for ferreting among the less picked-over 19th-century repertoire (ballet as well as opera), has come up with a bouquet of arias from now unfashionable British operas of the period and given them to soprano Deborah Riedel. It's quite a gift for her, as she blossoms under his baton (as does the Australian Opera and Ballet Orchestra, glory hallelujah!). Bonynge revives works by Michael Balfe, William Wallace and Arthur Sullivan that are by turns saccharine, sparkling, charming, tempestuous. These were men of the theatre and knew exactly what buttons to press. The music has a pleasing sense of wanting to connect to its audience (one that was very much at home with the sentimental spirit), and you might find this is a disc that will slyly grow on you.