by Jules Massenet
Pièce lyrique in five acts.
Libretto by Henri Cain and Arthur Bernède after the novel by Alphonse Daudet.
First performed at the Opéra Comique, Paris, on November 27, 1897.
Opera d’Oro has issued a recording of a 1973 London performance with the BBC Orchestra & Chorus conducted by Bernard Keefe. The cast is as follows:
Fanny Legrand (“Sapho”)—Milla Andrew
Jean Gaussin—Alexander Oliver
La Borderie—Bernard Dickerson
The performers are all, in my opinion, more than adequate, and Milla Andrew has an interesting voice. The opera has its moments, but on the whole is not terribly interesting. The sound on the Opera d’Oro recording is acceptable to me, but it is certainly less than perfect. There is sometimes some background noise that may come from the original recording medium.
The recording is available from amazon.com.
The opera is not about the famous Greek poetess of Lesbos. Rather, it takes place in France in the nineteenth century and is about a young man from the country who goes to Paris and falls in love with a woman with a past, a woman who had posed as model for a statue of Sapho. The story is in some ways reminiscent of La Traviata and La Rondine.