André-Ernest-Modeste Grétry was the greatest French composer of opéra-comique in the eighteenth century. His librettist for Le Magnifique, Jean-Michel Sedaine, took a tale by La Fontaine and fashioned it into a compelling libretto. Grétry responded with an outstanding score, including one of the first programmatic overtures in musical history. His expressive love music, and extended preludes and postludes, add to the theatrical variety of this important and varied opera.
The first performances of Les Femmes Vengées (The Avenged Women) in 1775 restored the fortunes of Francois-André Danican Philidor, which had been wavering since the great success of Tom Jones a decade earlier. His opéra-comique, which foreshadows the plot of Mozarts Così fan tutte (Mozart had been in Paris during the first performances of Philidors work), offers delicious opportunities for mock-indignation and repartee in its arias and ensembles. This recording presents the complete music. Opera Lafayette and Ryan Browns recording of Philidors Sancho Pança [8.660274] was hailed as a witty, authentic interpretation by the American Record Guide.