The Guardian, 29 July 2005
Andrew Clements
Carl Maria von WEBER (1786-1826)
Oberon, Martinpelto/ Kaufmann/ Davislim/ Monteverdi Choir/ Orchestre Révolutionnaire et Romantique/ Gardiner
Hillevi Martinpelto, Steve Davislim, Jonas Kaufmann, Marina Comparato, William Dazeley, Frances Bourne, Katherine Fuge, Roger Allam (narrator)
Monteverdi Choir, Orchestre Révolutionnaire et Romantique. John Eliot Gardiner
It has taken three years for Philips to release this studio-made version (the first with period instruments) of Weber's "romantic and fairy opera". Oberon was premiered at Covent Garden in 1826, but it's rarely seen onstage these days, mainly because the text and scenario are deemed unsalvageable. Yet the score is one of Weber's finest, and for the recording John Eliot Gardiner devised a narration linking the musical numbers.

Even though that text is delivered in a rather old-fashioned style, it works and never gets in the way of the music, which is performed with Gardiner's usual mix of clarity and well-focused energy. The role of Oberon is by no means the most important, though Steve Davislim does what he can with it; Hillevi Martinpelto as Reiza, the daughter of the caliph of Baghdad, has the best numbers, while Jonas Kaufmann cuts a suitable dash as Sir Huon de Bordeaux.

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