Eric Dahan, «Lasse des rôles de vierge effarouchée» (Libération, May 27)
Hélène Jarry, « Ma voix, un instrument parmi d’autres » (L'Humanité, May 28)
There are evenings when music turns for a long time in the air even after its sounds have fallen silent. This was true of Haydn's Creation, performed on Saturday, May 28, in the Basilica of the kings of France for the opening of the Festival de Saint-Denis. This work, given in honor of the anniversary of the visit of the late John Paul II to Saint-Denis, also consecrated, for fans of singing, the return of soprano Natalie Dessay after long months of vocal re-education. The singer had undergone, in November 2004, the removal of a polyp on her right set of vocal cords, two years and four months after a prior surgery for a pseudocyst on her left set. Her return to the stage in spring 2003 was soon cut short: beginning in October, she had cancelled all appearances at the Opéra Bastille, where she was supposed to sing Zerbinette in Richard Strauss's Ariadne auf Naxos.Performing with her were the Ensemble Orchestral de Paris, under the baton of John Nelson, who "audaciously knelt down on the ground at the moment of a choral 'Glory to God', which was, it's true, particularly elevated by the excellent Collegium Vocale Gent," the Belgian chorus founded by Philippe Herreweghe in 1970. Of course, I'll bring you some reviews of La Dessay's recital in July. According to this Web site, she will sing Pamina for the first time at the Sante Fe Festival in 2006 with Toby Spence as Tamino, and Juliette in Gounod's Roméo et Juliette at the Met next season.
Natalie Dessay is making this second vocal return in a more gradual way, in the light of music full of ideas of brotherhood and Masonic ideals, next to her husband, Laurent Naouri, who was also her Adam in the earthly paradise. It was moving to see her again singing as the archangel Gabriel, to hear once again her clear and warm tone, to savor her beautiful musical sense, and that ease of manner that belongs only to her. The voice is there, no doubt. Even if we must wait, to hear again the flamboyant coloratura and the born actress, for the major recital that she will give on July 7 at the Théâtre des Champs-Elysées, with its program of Rossini, Bellini, and Donizetti.
I should add that Dessay had already given performances before this, but in Montreal, not in France. I have found reviews of the benefit concert she sang for the Opéra de Montréal on May 8.