“Point d’orgue”, an opera in the shape of an inverted mirror

It looks like a small arrangement between friends – in any case the culmination of a project resulting from a double combination. In December 2013, the success of Dialogues of the Carmelites, by Francis Poulenc, brought together, among others, under the baton of Jérémie Rhorer, the soprano Patricia Petibon and the director Olivier Py, who delivered one of his best works in opera. In the spring of the same year, at the Opéra de Lyon, the man of the theater and the conductor had already collaborated on the creation of Thierry Escaich’s first opera, Claude, according to Victor Hugo’s manifesto against the death penalty. In the title role, baritone Jean-Sébastien Bou. Eight years later, the composer’s second lyrical creation, High point, associates this time between the confined walls of the Théâtre des Champs-Elysées the three musicians, conductor and singers, Olivier Py having added to the work of the stage that of librettist. The business gets even worse: the new lyrical opus of Thierry Escaich was conceived as “a continuation and a reverse” to The Human voice by Poulenc. The dramatic monologue from Cocteau’s text therefore constitutes the first part of the diptych. We attended one of the two recordings that took place behind closed doors on March 3 and 5, the production of which is now available on VoD on the Théâtre des Champs-Elysées website.

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A bedroom suspended in the center of a large brick wall, crystal chandeliers and red theatrical drapes, above the black bed, theOphelia painted by John Everett Millais. Vibrating like a trapped insect, a woman in a red dress, Patricia Petibon, is in digital conversation with the lover who has just left her. This “concerto for a woman’s voice and orchestra”, a lyrical tragedy of amorous pain, befits the sensually eruptive vocality of the soprano, red-haired incarnation of martyrdom, whose contortions, both physical and vocal, intelligently traverse the cruel alphabet of misfortune.

Olivier Py’s staging articulates this killing of oneself, sparing the ascending crescendo and the word ” crazy woman “ a spectacular scenic effect of rocking drum-like washing machine, mimetic of psychic decompensation. The bed suddenly nailed to the wall is also reminiscent of the layer of agony of the blasphemous prioress in her Dialogues of the Carmelites. On this descent into hell punctuated by stops and climax, Jérémie Rhorer subtly deploys the refined movements of Poulenc’s orchestra, the third character in the play, between compassion and heart-rending realism.

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