In a setting of stone and images imagined by Célie Pauthe, Philippe Leroux signs a score destined to mark a milestone. Supported by the libretto, as close as possible to the lines of the author, by Raphaèle Fleury, a great specialist in Claudel; by the Cairn ensemble which confirms its high qualities of interpretation of the contemporary field and by singers with admirable vocal skill, it reaches the mystery without betraying its breath.
By Angelique Dascier
With “The Annunciation Made to Marie”, Philippe Leroux signs a work of infinite finesse, taming the art of bringing together on an opera stage electronic music, Gregorian chant, contemporary writing, prowess of neural synthesis…. and revival of Claudel. Thus, through judicious technical and staging choices, throughout the opera, the spectator is surrounded by the presence of the author of the “Satin Soulier”.
First, Claudel’s voice resonates, reconstituted by neuronal synthesis thanks to the work of the Ircam laboratories. It comes to us through the loudspeakers even before the music and it will thus return throughout the plot to orient, guide its characters, its “handful of tenants populating the basement of [sa] awareness “. Then, the music rings out, the voices are heard, the electronics spring up, all to support the element that we wanted at the center: the mystery, the verb of Claudel.
Claudel is also present in the landscapes of the Tardenois, this part of Champagne where the Claudels lived, filmed by Célie Pauthe and projected on the stone walls frozen on the stage. These living images of fields and forests throw us into the body of Paul Claudel on a stroll, introduce us to the sensations of cold, damp, darkness of the Tarden forests and already introduce witchcraft. Because of witchcraft, it will be a question. In the voices of Mara (Sophia Burgos) in particular and of Violaine (Raphaèle Kennedy) which will be veiled by episodes and without warning of bewitched accents seizing the listener between supernatural, strangeness and dread.
An abundance of ideas for a work of deep generosity
Witchcraft in humor too. Thus we hear the voice of Claudel singing an air about a small bird accompanied by a joke from the director inviting him to sing this air in the play staged at the theater at the time of the sound recording: magic of the mise en abyme that brings together the times of theater creation in the 1950s and opera creation today. Humor again when Elisabeth Vercors (Els Janssens Vanmuster) in a last dash before the departure of her husband, Anne Vercors (Marc Scoffoni) for Jerusalem sends him a last Say, when will you come back? on the notes of the Lady in Black. A scene to cry on an air to cry which put together there, in this setting, trigger laughter for the time of a spasm…
If the prowess of Ircam to revive Claudel’s voice is prodigious, there are other vocal prodigies on this stage. The singers’ voices are breathtaking, in demanding, almost superhuman contemporary writing. First, the voice of Raphaële Kennedy who accompanies the character of Violaine Vercors; the one who, in an enigmatic impulse, throws herself on the neck of Pierre de Craon (Vincent Bouchot), builder of cathedrals and leper to give him a kiss that will take away his pain. Armed with an impeccable vocal technique, the soprano navigates from the sharpest highs of the playful young woman in love with Jacques Hury (Charles Rice) to the painful and dramatic accents of illness and agony. As for the score, Mara Vercors has, this time, nothing to envy to Violaine. Bewitched, close to madness, she becomes sharp with truth, tested by the death of her child, fervent in the recitation of the Christmas psalms…
With “L’Annonce fait à Marie”, Philippe Leroux continues his exploration of a contemporary reading of medieval music and demonstrates a disarming mastery of writing for voice, in the extension of previous works such as the highly acclaimed “Voi(REX)” (2002). He is also continuing his study of the modeling of the spelling of a text by electro-acoustic music, giving musical life to the phrase as written by Claudel’s hand: Me I enter the night above my night, to listen to you.
Beyond what precedes, “The Annunciation made to Mary” is full of ideas, jokes, discoveries that give this work all the richness of a deep and noble generosity.
The Annunciation made to Mary [Création mondiale]
Philippe Leroux after Paul Claudel
Order // Angers-Nantes Opera;
Co-production // Angers-Nantes Opera, Rennes Opera, Ircam-Centre Pompidou.
With the support of the Lyric Creation Fund (SACD).
Nantes – Théâtre Graslin // Sunday 9 October at 4 p.m. (free childcare from 3 years old), Tuesday 11, Thursday 13 and Friday 14 October at 8 p.m. https://www.angers-nantes-opera.com/l-annonce-faite-a-marie
Rennes Opera // Sunday 6 November at 4 p.m., Tuesday 8 and Wednesday 9 November at 8 p.m. https://www.opera-rennes.fr/fr/evenement/lannonce-faite-marie
Angers – Grand Théâtre // Saturday 19 November at 6 p.m. (free childcare from 3 years old). https://www.angers-nantes-opera.com/l-annonce-faite-a-marie
Music – Philippe Leroux; Musical direction – Guillaume Bourgogne; Director – Célie Pauthe; Libretto Raphaèle Fleury based on the work of Paul Claudel
Cast: Violaine Vercors – Raphaële Kennedy, soprano; Mara Vercors – Sophia Burgos, soprano; Elisabeth Vercors – Els Janssens Vanmunster, mezzo-soprano; Anne Vercors – Marc Scoffoni, baritone; Jacques Hury – Charles Rice, baritone; Pierre de Craon – Vincent Bouchot, tenor
Visual © Martin Argyroglo
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“The announcement made to Marie”: Philippe Leroux and Célie Pauthe echo the night
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