Jeanne d’Arc au Bucher, written by the Swiss composer Arthur Honegger in 1938, is a fascinating oratorio. The text by Paul Claudel is constructed like a flashback, in which Joan looks back over her life just before she dies.
Marion Cotillard plays Joan with an intensity and sincerity that leap from the screen. The last moments of the martyr’s life, illustrated by the evocative and innovative music of Honegger, resound like a heartrending cry. With an exceptional cast of performers, this live recording offers a gripping new version of one of the masterpieces of twentieth-century music.
Cotillard movingly captures Jeanne's wildly contrasting moods while Xavier Gallas is consoling yet determined in supporting her. Most impressive of all, though, are the searing choral contributions that are convincing in their heartfelt gallic fervor, from an oppressed people, via baying crowd to angelic host.
– BBC Music Magazine
Cotillard marvelously captures Jeanne's innocence, toughness and terrifying doubts; Gallais is compassionate, tender, and at times tellingly fierce. The impact is immeasurably heightened on DVD by our being able to see both the sorrowing beauty of Gallais's face and the extraordinary way Cotillard's eyes let us know exactly what is going on in Jeanne's mind and soul.
Jeanne d'Arc au bûcherby Arthur Honegger Performer:
Marion Cotillard (Voice),
Xavier Gallais (Voice)
Barcelona Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century Written: 1934-1935; France
Average Customer Review: ( 2 Customer Reviews )
Cotillard superb!July 15, 2015By Bruce Hardy (Ventura, CA)See All My Reviews"Very good performance. At first, I had some trouble understanding the order of the events in the narrative, but then understood the different aspects of Joan's life and death."Report Abuse
A hugely impressive oratorio, and an acting tour June 25, 2015By Dean Frey See All My Reviews"In the late 1930s Arthur Honegger collaborated with the poet and diplomat Paul Claudel on a sprawling oratorio about Jeanne dArc, part nation-building, part satirical expose of political hypocrisy, part religious mysticism. The role of Jeanne is a speaking rather than a singing role, but everything that takes place is focussed upon the character, and it provides a juicy opportunity and daunting challenge for a French actress. Marion Cotillard delivers in spades. She provides everything one could wish for in the role. She conveys such a complex combination of innocence, pain, defiance, pride, terror, hope and love of God and country. Even when shes not speaking her face subtly mirrors the events that swirl around her. I would have loved to have seen more of that face; a Cotillard-cam off to the side of the stage, perhaps. And shes a virtuoso of crying; such an effective use of tears hasnt been seen since Margaret OBrien asked director Vincente Minelli during the filming of Meet Me In St. Louis if he wanted her tears to go all the way down her cheek, or just half-way. There are other great performances on display in this really excellent Blu ray: all of the solo singers and actors create characters of depth and individuality, but Xavier Gallais stands out as Frere Dominique. The choral singing by both children and adults was likewise full of character, moving or hilarious as the story unfolds. Marc Soustrot and the Barcelona Symphony & Catalonia National Orchestra provide an excellent performance of Honeggers witty, eloquent and complex score. Of special note is the large part Honegger wrote for the Ondes Martenot, which provides a quirky other-world sound throughout the piece. Everything comes together in this production, and as stunning as Cotillard is in the central role, her supporting cast is just as good."Report Abuse