By yourself on stage. By itself, by yourself and desperate. By yourself forever. Opera Theatre of Saint Louis and that brave soprano Patricia Racette convey us Francis Poulenc‘s just one-act opera LA VOIX HUMAINE. It’s a solo piece, a genuine tour de power for the singer. And Ms. Racette carries it off magnificently.
The company’s pageant is having spot outside the house this yr simply because of COVID limitations, but the modest theater is really fully outfitted and snug.
This lyric drama takes position in the bed room of a female we know just as “Elle”. The space that scenic designer Allen Moyer presents her is supremely classy-in a person of these lovely grand apartment structures with which George-Eugène Hausmann blessed Paris in his redesign of the city in the latter 19th century. There is certainly a big bed, a skirted dressing table, a chaise longue. There’s crown moulding. There is picture-body wainscotting on the walls. It truly is a stunningly attractive place.
And it can be all grey. A wonderful, tender, faintly shiny, monochromatic gray. It is the grey of solitude. It is the gray of despair.
Large casement home windows give us a see of a different high-quality building-or possibly a further wing of this just one. We are in Paris. It is evening. A awesome, potentially misty evening.
“Elle” seems. (Could I simply call her “She”? “Elle” is not her name it really is simply what she is.)
So, for Anglophones, “She” seems. She wears black-a black peignoir, a black gown. It is visually putting towards the comfortable gray area. I believe she is currently in mourning. She is dispondant, evidently. She goes to the big window, opens it, actions up onto the sill. (Will she jump? Is this heading to be a truly brief opera? Ah, no.) The telephone rings. She methods down.
Now that phone is a splendor, a person of individuals tasteful gold-and-ivory issues that sleeps in it’s gold cradle. It has a splendidly prolonged cord. It truly is a significant character in this drama. And it provides the bad lady this kind of frustrations.
It is her ex-lover on the line. She’s been waiting for this simply call. The enjoy affair is around. He is aware of that. We know that. But She is continue to in deep denial. He is truly named just to prepare for the return of all his appreciate letters. But she carries on to insist on how substantially she enjoys him.
She lies to him. (No, she did not acquire much too numerous sleeping drugs.) Then confesses that certainly, she did, but was saved by her friend Martha. She claims not to lie, then lies all over again.
There are interruptions. The line fails. She phone calls his house only to have the butler tell her “Learn is not in.” (Exactly where is he? Is he with her?) He calls all over again. Some stranger frequently breaks in on the get together line. Frustrations!
As a result of all this Patricia Racette demonstrates this sort of mastery-musically and significantly. What a voice! It can be a joy to hear.
Immediately after a although a single tends to experience that She ought to just pull herself alongside one another and take the circumstance. Such moaning! This is a person higher-servicing female-close friend! But that mirror at her dressing table, individuals enormous panels of mirror in excess of the fireplace-location. Her confront is at any time just before her. There is certainly no way that She can keep away from the doom of growing older. She is, inescapably, une femme d’un age certain. And she’s getting rid of her gentleman to a young female. The lens of pathos focuses to a burning issue when, studying that he is getting his new like to Marseille, she begs him not to acquire her to “our minimal resort”.
In lieu of orchestra, Ms. Racette is accompanied by Sun Ha Yoon on piano. Hers is yet another heroic functionality, as she musically undergirds all the emotion and drama of the tale. Now Poulenc under no circumstances in his daily life licensed a piano edition of this function. He explained that “the complete operate need to bathe itself in the major orchestral sensuality.”
Granted, the piano variation does improve the intimacy of this incredibly intimate opera. But at what charge? The orchestral variation is like a great movie score. (Maybe a Hitchcock?) It follows and amplifies the emotional topography. It truly is loaded with stressful dissonances and with the sweeping strings of romantic memory. That xylophone tends to make the telephone so actual.
But this Opera Theatre generation is continue to an evening not to be skipped.
(Pics by Eric Woolsey)