Notes and Editorial Reviews
Soprano Natalie Dessay leaves the dizzy heights of Bellini’s Amina, Donizetti’s Marie and Massenet’s Manon to inhabit the more discreet emotional and vocal world of Debussy’s Pelléas et Mélisande with a cast of fellow francophones.
“There’s more to life than top notes,” Natalie Dessay has said. She has, of course, made her reputation with the florid, stratospheric heroines of Romantic French and Italian opera, but in this new DVD from Vienna she portrays a heroine who presents few opportunities for vocal display, but many for subtle characterisation – Debussy’s Mélisande. Dessay had sung the role just once before, in concert in Edinburgh in 2005. Pelléas et Mélisande is full of ambiguity and
its vocal lines closely reflect Maurice Maeterlink’s often enigmatic text. A few unaccompanied, ballad-like phrases are the closest Mélisande gets to an aria.
For this production, premiered in January 2009 at the Theater an der Wien, Dessay’s French and French-Canadian colleagues included stage director Laurent Pelly -- celebrated for riotous comedy (notably La fille de regiment with Dessay, also a Virgin Classics DVD – and his preferred designer, Chantal Thomas; Dessay’s real-life husband, bass-baritone Laurent Naouri as her jealous stage husband, Golaud; the lyric baritone Stéphane Degout as her Pelléas, and the contralto Marie-Nicole Lemieux as his and Golaud’s mother, Geneviève. The high-calibre Gallic line-up was completed by conductor Bertrand de Billy.
Works on This Recording
Pelléas et Mélisande by Claude Debussy
Marie-Nicole Lemieux (Alto),
Stèphane Degout (Baritone),
Natalie Dessay (Soprano),
Phillip Ens (Bass),
Laurent Naouri (Baritone),
Timothy Mirfin (Bass)
Bertrand De Billy
Arnold Schoenberg Choir,
Vienna Radio Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century
Written: 1893-1902; France
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