Magazine article Gramophone

Honegger/Ibert: L'Aiglon

Magazine article Gramophone

Honegger/Ibert: L'Aiglon

Article excerpt

Honegger/Ibert [G]  L'Aigion Anne-Catherine Gillet sop              L'Aiglon Marc Barrard bar                       Flambeau Etienne Dupuis bar                   Metternich Philippe Sly bar                        Marmont Pascal Charbonneau ten         Military Attache Isaiah Bell ten                           Gentz Tyler Duncan bar                       Prokesch Jean-Michel Richer ten                Sedlinsky Helene Guilmette sop                    Therese Marie-Nicole Lemieux contr         Marie-Louise Julie Boulianne mez               Fanny Elssler Kimy McLaren sop              Comtesse Camerata 

Montreal Symphony Chorus and Orchestra / Kent Nagano

Recorded live at the Maison Symphonique, Montreal, March 2015

Decca (M) (2) 478 9502DH02 (92' * DDD * S/T/t)

Co-written by Arthur Honegger and Jacques Ibert, L'Aiglon was first performed in Monte Carlo in March 1937. An adaptation of Edmond Rostand's play of the same name, it deals with the elusive historical figure of Napoleon II--known in his lifetime as the Duke of Reichstadt and posthumously as 'the Little Eagle'--who, following his father's abdication, was taken into the custody of his mother, Marie-Louise of Austria, and kept a virtual prisoner at the Habsburg court. He died, aged only 21, in 1832, but while he lived, all Europe waited, in anticipation and terror, to see if he would attempt to claim his imperial title.

Rostand's play was written in 1900 as a travesti vehicle for Sarah Bernhardt, following her success in Hamlet the previous year, and self-consciously echoes Shakespeare in its examination of the relationship between volition and action. The Duke--drawn to Napoleonic idealism but trapped by Metternich's sinister Realpolitik--dreams hopelessly of the France he will neither see again nor rule, though his forceful imagination gradually colours the lives of all those round him. In the climactic scene, he narrates the history of the battle of Wagram with such intensity that the old soldier Flambeau, fatally injured in a futile attempt to help the Duke escape, believes he is dying a hero's death on the battlefield. …

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