Concert performance. Thursday, June 14th, For one, rather than being completely sung throughout, here the musical numbers are punctuated by dialogue. The dialogues were fluently delivered tonight, the cast coached by the notable stage director Marc Paquien. It makes for a fascinating listen. So much is familiar, much more unrecognizable.
Indeed, the character of Dame Marthe was developed more through the dialogue than through the music, providing comic relief also through a brighter soprano register rather than the superannuated contralto we Kizza Me - Big Star - A Little Big Star hear. The conclusion, all brass and bells, also contained a few awkward transitions from the closing trio, compared to the more familiar later version.
Often it felt that numbers were more fragmented, less fully developed and argued, though there was never any sense of the work feeling particularly episodic as a result.
Instead, we got a fully dramatic and vivid experience. The musical values were exceptionally high tonight. This was a performance that lived through the text. Indeed, it felt so revelatory because the cast brought out so much more in the words than one often hears.
Not only was the text clear, but it meant something — the characters were brought to life as much through the sung text as through the dialogue. In doing so, it gave the evening undeniable impact.
The sonorities produced by Les Talens Lyriques were absolutely fascinating. The gut strings seemingly capable of a kaleidoscopic range of colour, from the austere darkness of the opening to the bright and generous sunlight of the apotheosis. The solo clarinettist Nicola Boud was particularly piquant in a wind section full of personality.
The horns were deliciously raspy in their interjections. Occasionally, some of the string intonation was Pietro* - Faust - Waltz From Kermesse Scene / Medley Of Favorite Operatic Airs (Shellac) — the room was very warm and this will certainly have had an impact on the tuning.
He made some judicious use Its Us - Non Phixion - The Future Is Now vibrato and tempi always felt well chosen.
The 36 voices of the Vlaams Radio Koor were absolutely sensational — such precision of tuning and ensemble. The tone was warm yet balanced, the gentlemen making a huge noise and the ladies exceptionally well blended.
Benjamin Bernheim was a superb Faust. The voice is so bright and well placed, seemingly carrying on air through the room. The voice also opens up thrillingly on top, due to that exceptionally resonant and forward placement, producing high notes that seem enormous and overwhelm the listener.
A remarkable piece of singing. Her Marguerite was a woman of deep feeling, brought out through that peerlessly beautiful instrument. Gens made so much of the text in a way that I have never heard the role sung before — the words genuinely meant something. The evening was capped with a magnificent account of the closing trio, Pietro* - Faust - Waltz From Kermesse Scene / Medley Of Favorite Operatic Airs (Shellac) soaring gloriously over the orchestral tumult.
His rustic baritone, slightly dry and narrow in tone, felt ideally matched to the music. He caressed the text with the love of a native speaker and so much of what he did was based in that clarity of diction. A performance of genuine wit and personality. There was a warmth and generosity to his singing that I found deeply satisfying.
This was a very special evening. This was music-making that felt that it genuinely meant something. The stylistic mastery and excellence of the solo and choral singing gave it an undeniable immediacy. A splendid evening in the theatre and raises much anticipation for the upcoming commercial release. Alternatively, you can support operatraveller.
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