This world-premiere recording of the 1826 Paris version of Gaspare Spontini’s Olimpie makes a powerful case for a composer much admired in his own day and for a work that forms a link between Voltaire and the French Grand Operas of Meyerbeer, Halévy, and Verdi.
Hundreds of silvery scissors hang above the stage in rows, gently swaying and giving off a tinkling metal sound. These scissors have a life of their own, rising and descending, sometimes in voluptuous swoops. On the right a woman sits amidst a pile of white material, cutting the fabric into Chinese characters which she holds aloft. Each time she does this the English translation of the characters appears on screens, introducing a segment of the performance.