Magazine article Opera Canada

Pacific Opera Victoria

Magazine article Opera Canada

Pacific Opera Victoria

Article excerpt

Francis Poulenc's 1958 La voix humaine tells the story of a woman speaking on the telephone for the last time with the lover who has jilted her. For 40 minutes, we hear one side of their conversation, which she begins by saying that she is fine, doing well. Only later does she reveal that, instead of taking one pill to help her sleep the night before, she took 12. A doctor saved her.

Poulenc wrote two versions of the piece: the first for piano and voice only, the second with an orchestra. Poulenc himself performed the piano version often, but prohibited anyone else from performing it until after his death. Perhaps with good reason. Poulenc's writing for the voice is natural and conversational, with many repeated notes, few rises and falls, frequent pauses and silences. Poulenc's writing for the piano is spare and spikey. As played by Robert Holliston in Pacific Opera Victoria's production (seen May 12), it was also cool and aloof. …

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