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Natalie Dessay's Le Rossignol

Available from Amazon:
The Nightingale, directed by Christian Chaudet, released November 8, 2005
The Nightingale, directed by Christian Chaudet, Natalie Dessay, Laurent Naouri
Amid all my complaining about the worthlessness of PBS and NPR, an animated film version of Igor Stravinsky's opera The Nightingale was shown on PBS's Great Performances last night. I would have posted a reminder about this, except that I didn't know about it (if Vilaine Fille doesn't tell me about it, it must not be happening). Let's be honest: given the crap they are usually peddling on that show, I had long ago stopped paying attention to it. However, by chance I saw Stravinsky in the schedule as I was setting the DVR to record something else. Thank goodness for Tivo.

The performance features the Opéra National de Paris orchestra and chorus, led by guest conductor James Conlon. The astounding French soprano Natalie Dessay is the Nightingale, and her baritone husband Laurent Naouri is the Chamberlain. Christian Chaudet directed this film version, enhanced with computer animation and rather strange (based on one viewing, I'd say it's something like Fantasia meets Bladerunner, inside a Playstation game). You can read more about the opera's polystylistic quality in Tim Smith's essay on the film. Hans Christian Andersen's fairy tale (The Nightingale, 1844), on which Stravinsky based the opera, seems to be at least similar -- if perhaps not actually related -- to the Arabic sources for Hans Werner Henze's L'Upupa, also about an emperor's ornithological obsession.

If you missed the broadcast, you can buy the film on DVD.


My Daily Struggles said...

I watched the opera last night. It was entrancing.

Clayton Koonce said...

I don't buy many DVDs, but I'm definitely looking for this one. Also read the review in Opera News. Thanks for posting this. I also just bought Dessay's wonderful French aria collection.

Anonymous said...

Charles, I knew about this because I paid WETA $30 to receive the monthly review. Yes, WETA has major major problems, but I still think that $2.50 a month is worth it for the news and the very rare work of televised culture. Oh, and the MET opera, including tomorrow's An American Tragedy on WETA-FM.

Charles T. Downey said...

Yes, I will be be listening to Picker's opera tomorrow. On WBJC, not WETA. I signed myself up for the e-mail bulletin from Great Performances this week, which will let me know about the occasional gem on that series. It's free and does not involve paying anything to WETA and thereby supporting American deculturalization. FYI.