Stravinsky, Les Noces / Oedipus Rex, S. Semishkur, E. Nikitin,
E. Semenchuk, G. Depardieu,
Mariinsky Orchestra and Chorus,
(released on June 8, 2010)
MAR 0510 | 73'49"
Stravinsky distilled the devastating Greek tragedy of Oedipus by Sophocles into a two-part short opera-oratorio of ritual tautness. With an austere orchestration and the adaptation of Cocteau translated into Latin (the sung parts, not the narration), which Stravinsky insisted be sung with a classical, not ecclesiastical pronunciation, Oedipus Rex aims to take opera back to its roots in Greek tragedy. Julie Taymor famously directed a production of the work in Japan, using elements of Nobuki theater to capture that ritual aspect of the work: it is available on DVD, and you can see a snippet of Jessye Norman's unforgettable Jocasta in the video below. Gergiev entrusts the role to the volcanic mezzo-soprano Ekaterina Semenchuk, who is the best part of the cast, supported by the full-throated Mariinsky Chorus. Strangely, for a Russian version of the work, Gergiev chose to have the narration read in the original French: Gérard Depardieu turns in a beautifully declaimed and affecting performance. The result is not as universally good as Gergiev's Les Noces, but worth a listen.