Drei unbekannte Franzosen


Auf nach Paris! Vom 7. Bis 19. Juni findet dort ein Geschmacksfäden ziehendes Festival dreier absolut unbekannter Opern der (späten) französischer Romantik statt: Halévys Reine de Chypre und Lemoynes (wer?) Phèdre buhlen konzertant um die Gunst des szenischen Timbre d´Argent von Saint-Saens. Nun kann man natürlich wieder maulen, weil Lemoynes Oper in einer abenteuerlichen Reduktion für Kleinstbesetzung stattfindet und mit dem Timbre d´Argent wieder eine weitere Oper von Saint-Saens vorgeführt wird, aber angesichts der (vielleicht dankenswerter Weise „nur“) konzertanten Reine de Chypre gibt es nun endlich eine Begegnung mit diesem mythischen Titel, den ich schon seit meinen Studentenjahren (wie den französischen Tannhäuser) immer einmal hören wollte. Voilá – der Palazetto Bru Zane macht´s möglich! Zudem wird aufgezeichnet, erst einmal nur das Timbre d´Argent für den Palazetto/Ediciones Singolares, die anderen beiden für zumindest Radio France (der Halévy auch später auf CD). Das Ganze gibt’s kompakt an einem langen Wochende (so am 7. – 9. Juni 2017). Daran angekoppelt Konzerte und ein politisch-historischer Vokalabend. Also wenn das kein Grund ist nach Paris zu fahren…. Nachstehend eine Zusammenfassung in Englisch aus der Ankündigung vom Palazetto/ Ophelias München. G. H.


Ein mythischer Titel: „La Reine de Chypre“ von Halévy/ Liebig/ OBA

The fifth edition of the Palazzetto Bru Zane’s Paris festival opens at the Théâtre des Champs-Élysées with a rare opera by Halévy, La Reine de Chypre (1841), performed in concert under the direction of Hervé Niquet. The operatic side of the festival’s programme is further enriched by a collaboration with the newly renovated Opéra Comique (Foto oben: L´Opéra-Comique/Detail aus der Dekoration des Bühnenbogens/ opéra-comique.com), where a staged production of Saint- Saëns’s Le Timbre d’argent (1877) will be seen, in a staging by Guillaume Vincent. Alongside this, the series of chamber concerts and recitals will be pursued at the Théâtre des Bouffes du Nord, focusing notably on Saint-Saëns and La Tombelle – thus tying in with the cycles that the Centre de Musique Romantique Française will devote to these two composers throughout the 2016/17 season – as well as Hahn, Chaminade, Gounod and many others. Finally, the festival will also present performances of ‘Vote for me!’ the Palazzetto Bru Zane’s new production based on political chansons and couplets of the nineteenth century, and of Lemoyne’s tragédie lyrique Phèdre (1786), in a staging by Marc Paquien that will continue the process of exploration of early Romanticism.


WEDNESDAY 07.06.2017: THÉÂTRE DES CHAMPS-ÉLYSÉES/ LA REINE DE CHYPRE BY FROMENTAL HALÉVY/ Grand opéra in five acts on a libretto by Jules-Henri Vernoy de Saint-Georges, premiered on 22 December 1841 at the Opéra de Paris/ Concert performance/ ORCHESTRE DE CHAMBRE DE PARIS/ FLEMISH RADIO CHOIR/ Hervé Niquet music director/ Catarina Cornaro Véronique Gens/ Gérard de/ Coucy Marc Laho/ Jacques de Lusignan Étienne Dupuis/ Andréa Cornaro Christophoros Stamboglis

Esquisse de décor de l’acte IV (le grande place de Nicosie) de la Reine de Chypre par Charles Cambon/ Gallica/ BNO

If Halévy’s name entered French musical history thanks to the success of La Juive in 1835, several voices were raised to designate La Reine de Chypre (The Queen of Cyprus), composed six years later, as his masterpiece. Wagner, in particular, deemed its music, ‘noble, feeling, and even new and elevating’; so much so, indeed, that he devoted a detailed analytical article to the work. Even the composer’s detractors were forced to acknowledge the qualities of this new work, among them George Sand who told Delacroix of ‘the beauty and pomp of the spectacle’. Premiered on 22 December 1841, Halévy’s opera offered the limelight to Rosine Stoltz in the title role: she was the only woman in the cast, for it had been found preferable to isolate her, following her incessant disputes with the other female singers in the company. Alongside her, the tenor Gilbert Duprez shone in the role of Gérard. Unlike the grands opéras of the 1830s, La Reine de Chypre includes not only a substantial bass part (Andrea Cornaro) but also an extensively developed role for high baritone (Lusignan). The story takes the spectator on a voyage from the palaces of Venice to those of Cyprus. The publisher Maurice Schlesinger, always on the lookout for novelties, is said to have paid the enormous sum of 30,000 francs for the rights to the opera. But despite an initial success confirmed by a number of translations and adaptations that appeared shortly after the first run (notably Lachner’s Caterina Cornaro in 1841 and Donizetti’s opera of the same name in 1843), the work has not been seen in a European opera house for nearly a century and a half. Co-production Bru Zane France / Théâtre des Champs-Élysées / Orchestre de Chambre de Paris The opera will be recorded for the Palazzetto Bru Zane’s “Opéra français” CD-books series.


Jean-Baptiste Lemoyne, Büste von Noël-Nicolas Coypel, 1730, Terracotta/ theredlist.com

THURSDAY 08.06.2017 8.30 P.M./ SATURDAY 10.06.2017 8.30 P.M./ SUNDAY 11.06.2017 5 P.M./ THÉÂTRE DES BOUFFES DU NORD: PHÈDRE BY JEAN-BAPTISTE LEMOYNE/ Tragédie lyrique in three acts on a libretto by/ François-Benoît Hoffmann, premiered on/ 26 October 1786 at Fontainebleau Palace./ Arrangement for four singers and ten instrumentalists by Benoît Dratwicki./ LE CONCERT DE LA LOGE/ Julien Chauvin music director and violin/ Marc Paquien stage director/ Phèdre Judith Van Wanroij// OEnone Diana Axentii/ Hippolyte Enguerrand de Hys/ Thésée Thomas Dolié

The libretto of Phèdre belongs to a fashion in the reign of Louis XVI for reviving the styles of the Grand Siècle: many aesthetes were of the opinion that the decadence of the arts that had begin with the death of Rameau called for a pious volte-face to the classical sources of Louis XIV’s reign. The librettist François-Benoît Hoffman (1760-1828), still very much in the flower of his youth and who would go on to write the libretto for Cherubini’s glorious Médée in 1797, radically adapted Racine’s original, preserving only a few of its more striking features. The music composed for this tightly wrought drama benefited from Gluck’s innovations of the 1770s. Lemoyne paid particular attention to finding just the right note for his recitatives: short orchestral phrases, unexpected modulations, even musical rests intensify the drama and emotional charge of the libretto. Lemoyne employed various devices which make his style instantly recognisable. Orchestral unisons, for instance, lend an air of unsettling mystery to each of Phaedra’s entrances. The score also makes good use of the so-called ‘frenetic’ style (in which Berlioz detected the indisputable source of early Romanticism) developed by the school of Gluck; this gave Mlle Saint-Huberty, for whom the role was written, a chance to display her dramatic talent and strong singing voice to the full/ Production Bru Zane France/ Co-production Théâtre de Caen / Centre de Musique Baroque de Versailles / Opéra de Reims/ The opera will be recorded by France Musique


Illustration zu Saint-Saens` Oper „Le Timbre d´Argent“/ Wikipedia

FRIDAY 09.06.2017 8 P.M./ SUNDAY 11.06.2017 3 P.M./ WEDNESDAY 13, THURSDAY 15, SATURDAY 17 AND MONDAY 19.06.2017 8 P.M./ OPÉRA COMIQUE/ LE TIMBRE D’ARGENT BY CAMILLE SAINT-SAËNS/ Drame lyrique in four acts on a libretto by Jules Barbier and Michel Carré, completed in 1865 and first performed on 23 February 1877 at the Théâtre National Lyrique in Paris./ LES SIÈCLES ACCENTUS/ François-Xavier Roth music director Guillaume Vincent stage director/ Circée/ Fiametta, danseuse Raphaëlle Delaunay/ Hélène Hélène Guilmette/ Rosa Jodie Devos/ Spiridion Tassis Christoyannis/ Conrad Edgaras Montvidas/ Bénédict Yu Shao

„Le Timbre d´argent“/ Frontespièce des Klavierauszugs/ Gallica/ BNO

Perhaps no opera has ever had a more complex career than Saint-Saëns’s Le Timbre d’argent (The silver bell). Completed in 1865, just after the composer’s second failure to win the Prix de Rome, the work had to wait until 1877 to be premiered – in a version with spoken dialogue – at the Théâtre National Lyrique, under the direction of Jules Danbé. The abrupt closure of that house prevented any revival of the work, and the composer proceeded, at the behest of theatre directors who promised to stage it, to modify the physiognomy of a score he regarded as one of his finest. Le Timbre d’argent was subsequently heard, among other revivals, in Monte Carlo (1905) and at La Monnaie in Brussels (1914), in a wholly sung version restoring tableaux that had been cut in 1877 despite Saint-Saëns’s protests. Should we be surprised that the composer so stoutly defended a work whose subject, as he said himself, ‘is none other than the struggle of an artist’s soul against the vulgarities of life, his inability to live and think like everyone else’? Le Timbre d’argent is of primordial importance in the history of French opera, since it was composed amid the great Wagnerian debate, according to innovative precepts. Foreshadowing the phantasmagoria of Offenbach’s Les Contes d’Hoffmann, its story takes place almost entirely within the confines of . . . a nightmare. And the final scene is no less than a cinematic flashback long before such a thing existed. Saint-Saëns later wrote with amusement: ‘This piece was seen as a revolutionary and prodigiously advanced work’ (March 1914). The Palazzetto Bru Zane and the Opéra Comique offer a chance to discover the definitive version, revised by Saint-Saëns himself (and therefore without cuts) for La Monnaie in 1914/ Production Opéra Comique Co-production Palazzetto Bru Zane / Oper Köln. Recording by the Palazzetto Bru Zane’s for the “Opéra français” CD-books series/ The opera will be recorded by France Musique – ouf!