Our May Recording of the Month is a remarkable rediscovery.

Louise Bertin was just 20 when in 1825 she began working up Goethe’s Faust into an Italian opera semiseria. Unforeseen complications meant Fausto didn’t reach the stage until 1831 when bad notices and the closure of the Théâtre-Italien condemned it to just three performances.

Now, those indefatigable excavators at Palazetto Bru Zane have restored and recorded Bertin’s original version and what a revelation it is.

Clive Paget caught up with Christophe Rousset, founder of period instrument pioneers Les Talens Lyriques, whose sterling efforts have brought this visionary score to life.

What did you know of Louise Bertin before this project?

About nothing! [laughs] I knew the portrait of her father [Louis-François Bertin, editor of the influential Journal des débats], which is quite famous because it’s in the Louvre. He was a very important figure in Paris, but I didn’t know his daughter was a composer and I didn’t know anything of her music.

Christophe Rousset

Christophe Rousset and Les Talens Lyriques in the studio. Photo © Victor Tonelli

What struck you about Fausto when you first started looking at the music?

When I opened this...