Magazine article Gramophone

Escaich: Claude

Magazine article Gramophone

Escaich: Claude

Article excerpt

Escaich DVD [G] Claude Jean-Sebastien Bou bar                                         Claude Jean-Philippe Lafont bar                                 Le Directeur Rodrigo Ferreira counterten                                     Albin Laurent Alvaro bass-bar         L'Entrepreneur/Le Surveillant General Remy Mathieu ten                   1st Personnage/Surveillant Philip Sheffield ten               2nd Personnage/Surveillant 

Maitrise, Chorus and Orchestra of the Opera de Lyon / Jeremie Rhorer Stage director Olivier Py Video director Vincent Massip Bel Air Classiques (F) [DVD] BAC118 (97 + 26' * NTSC * 16:9 * DD5.1 & PCM stereo * 0 * s) Recorded live, April 2013

Bonus: Interviews with Thierry Escaich and Robert Badinter by Anne Sinclair

As minister for justice under Francois Mitterand, the French lawyer and politician Robert Badinter played a key role in the abolition of the death penalty. Badinter serves as librettist for composer Thierry Escaich's opera Claude, based upon the short story Claude Gueux by Victor Hugo. The text, and Escaich's colourful and compelling score--by turns brutal and scintillating--make this opera something of an event. Premiered at the Opera National de Lyon in March 2013, Claude is deeply serious, angry, passionate and demanding, dramatically (if not musically) in the tradition of Berg's Wozzeck and Zimmermann's Die Soldaten.

The title-character is a precursor of Hugo's Jean Valjean, a decent man forced by social and economic conditions to take to the barricades (in Badinter's version of the tale), for which he is incarcerated at the notorious Clairvaux prison. No sooner has he arrived than a fellow inmate is gang-raped; Claude intervenes, an act of bravery that establishes his decency. A friendship develops between Claude and the delicate young man he has saved, which in the opera becomes sexual and a source of emotional sustenance for both men.

Badinter's tailoring of the Hugo does it no violence, updating the tale's psychology, heightening its intensity and making explicit what is merely implied in the 19th-century original. …

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