There is so much attractive, memorable music in Le Rossignol (The Nightingale, 1909-1913), Stravinsky 's first foray into the world of opera, and his grasp of the medium is so secure that it is surprising the piece is not performed more often. There is no lack of very fine recordings of the opera, though, including those by the composer himself, Pierre Boulez , and Robert Craft , but none can boast a lead as charismatic and vocally spectacular as Natalie Dessay , who really sparkles as the Nightingale. The entire cast, in fact, is first-rate. Tenor Vsevolod Grivnov is little known in the West, but he brings a heroic, clarion tone and warmth to the role of the Fisherman. Albert Schagidullin is another unfamiliar name, but his authoritative baritone makes him a highly effective Emperor, and the smaller roles are similarly well-taken. James Conlon 's reading highlights the opera's colorful orchestration and the quirkiness of its juxtapositions. His shaping of the score and his pacing for the most part are good, but the Introduction seems a little slack. The Orchestra and Chorus of l'Opéra National de Paris deliver nuanced, brilliant performances. Stravinsky describes the 15-minute Renard, based on Russian folk stories and written in 1925 and 1916, as "a burlesque tale in song and dance," and it is a curious hybrid of opera and ballet. Where the music of Le Rossignol is reminiscent of the lyricism of The Firebird, Renard, for four male soloists and chamber orchestra, is closer to the more acerbic world of Petrushka or L'histoire du soldat. The same forces turn in a snappy, perky performance of the score. EMI's sound is admirably clear and detailed, but just a little distant.