Magazine article Opera Canada

Lakme

Magazine article Opera Canada

Lakme

Article excerpt

DESSAY, KUNDE, VAN DAM, HAIDAN, LEGUERINEL, Choeur et Orchestre du Capitole de Toulouse, Michel Plasson, conductor. EMI Classics 5 56569 2 (2 CDs).

LAKME WAS WRITTEN FOR A YOUNG AMERICAN saprano named Marie van Zandt. Although criticized for her accent, the premiere at the Opera Comique in 1883 was an enormous success and the work remained in the repertoire for roughly 80 years. While Lakme has languished on the international scene in recent years, it remains a relatively familiar item in France. This new EMI recording is the first to appear in over 20 years.

Given the work's reputation in France, any French soprano worth her salt must--at some point in her career--scale the heights of this operatic Tour Eiffel. Following in the footsteps of such famous Lakmes as Lily Pons, Mado Robin, Mady Mesple and Canada's Pierrett Alarie comes the newest singing (and acting) sensation from France, Natalie Dessay. Although still quite young, Dessay already brings considerable stage experience to the recording, having performed the opera in such centres as Nancy and Paris.

In many ways, she possesses the perfect voice for Lakme: light, agile, but one infused with human warmth. Although identifiably French in its coloration and accent, her sound and approach is considerably more Italianate than that of her illustrious predecessors. Nor do technical hurdles seem to daunt Dessay. In fact, she tosses off the vocal intricacies and pyrotechnics of the infamous "Bell Song" with, if anything, too much ease, thus undermining the dramatic tension of the moment. …

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