Soprano Emmanuelle de Negri
(photo by Bdallah Lasri)
The 17th- and 18th-century selections showed de Negri's voice in the best light, a clear-toned, bright, agile instrument with verve and energy. Much of the appeal of French Baroque music has to do with the poetic recitation of text, and there were no complaints with de Negri's diction: her attention to the texts and charming, often funny vocal characterizations brought this music to life. For the opening set, drawn from André Campra's opera-ballet Les Festes Vénitiennes, she wore a masque as the character of Amour, dancing and moving about gracefully. Standout discoveries included a melancholy passacaille by Marc-Antoine Charpentier, Sans frayeur dans ce bois, and the knock-out sleep aria from Le Sommeil d'Ulysse by Elisabeth Jacquet de la Guerre (1665-1729). Introduced by the sweet tones of Colin St. Martin's transverse flute with cello and theorbo, de Negri sang this piece seated, while reading from a book, as if narrating, floating long high notes that hung in the air limpidly. Other beautiful discoveries included the ardent Laissez durer la nuit by Sébastien Le Camus (1610-1677) and two delightful airs by Michel Lambert (1619-1696), especially the pathetic Vos mépris, which sounded a lot like the famous aria Pur ti miro, pur ti godo, probably not by Monteverdi, from the end of L'Incoronazione di Poppea. Sopranos in search of an unusual encore piece may want to take a look at the cute aria Rien du tout, by Nicholas Racot de Grandval, sung by a diva who refuses to sing.
Cecelia Porter, Opera Lafayette’s passionate ‘Invitation’ (Washington Post, November 1)
The next performance by Opera Lafayette will be Félicien David's Lalla Roukh (January 26, 8 pm), at the Kennedy Center Eisenhower Theater. This exotic opéra-comique, set in India and Uzbekistan, will feature choreography by Kalanidhi Dance.