GRÉTRY, A.–E.–M.: Épreuve villageoise (L’) (The Village Trial) [Opéra bouffon] (Opera Lafayette Chorus and Orchestra, R. Brown)
L’épreuve villageoise (The Village Trial)–which, in its original form as Théodore et Paulin, was first performed before Marie Antoinette at Versailles–was one of André–Ernest–Modeste Grétry’s most popular works. For a century after its 1784 première it enjoyed huge acclaim across Europe and even travelled to the New World, where it captivated audiences in New York. Grétry was a master of eighteenth–century opéra comique and this crisp and lively farce centres on a clever farmer’s daughter and her two competing suitors. Employing divergent stylistic registers–finesse and naiveté, music reminiscent of popular song, and extended ensembles–Grétry fashioned a score of sophisticated wit and huge charm.