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25.4.07

Opera Short and Sweet

The Opéra national de Lyon is offering a selection of one-act operas right now, called Festival "Amour et soupçon" (through May 5). It sounds like an excellent idea and the schedule looks interesting, but Renaud Machart sounded a little disappointed in this review (Attente déçue au festival des opéras courts de Lyon, April 24) for Le Monde (my translation and links added):

We did not attend the opening night, on April 17, which brought together the luxurious music of Zemlinsky [A Florentine Tragedy] and the in petto exclamations of Salvatore Sciarrino's Luci miei tradicisti [see photo at right]. The following night, we were overjoyed to hear Djamileh (1872), an orientalist rarety by Bizet. However, an excellent but indisposed singer (Janja Vuletic), a vocally ungracious and shouty tenor (Jean-Pierre Furlan), and a gimmicky and sex-addict staging (Christopher Alden) made the wait not worth our while. Was it necessary to wring the libretto's meaning by the neck in having the slave Djamileh get strangled by his sultan at the work's conclusion, when Musset clearly indicated in Namouna, the source of the libretto, that this was supposed to be a happy ending, the one making the other understand how deep her love was? Alden preferred to conclude the work with a filmed murder scene right out of a snuff film.
The other operas on the schedule are Puccini's Il Tabarro (with Laurent Naouri), Poulenc's La Voix humaine (directed by Laurent Pelly, with Felicity Lott), and Bartók's Duke Bluebeard's Castle (with Hedwig Fassbender and Peter Fried). You know it's bad when what is reviewed as disappointing is so much better than the best of what we have here.

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