Magazine article Opera Canada

France: Marseille

Magazine article Opera Canada

France: Marseille

Article excerpt

Premiered posthumously by Opera de Monte-Carlo in February 1914, two years after the composer's death, Mas-senet's Cleopdtre sank into oblivion in France until its revival at the Massenet Festival of Saint-Etienne in October, 1990. Its stage premiere at Opera Marseille in June was greeted as a major operatic event since the piece is so little known except for Cleopitre's "Poison" aria in Act III, which has figured in recitals. Though harshly criticized after its premiere for the bombastic tone of some of its dialogue, the piece nonetheless has a uniquely eloquent dramatic progression that culminates in an engrossing final act. The big audiences in Marseille were obviously under the production's spell for a variety of reasons. Charles Roubaud's economical and efficient direction steered clear of the pompous tones of the Classical era while remaining faithful to the period, thanks to Katia Duflot's sumptuous costumes, Emanuelle Favre's setts, Marie-Jeanne Gauthe's pertinent video projections and Marc Delameziere's stage lighting. Conductor Lawrence Foster provided a brilliantly colorful version of the score, which was performed without interruptions at the request of Massenet's heirs.

The troubling sensuality remained intact in a cast dominated by the Cleopa-tra/Mark Antony duo. …

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