Magazine article Musical Opinion

La Jolie Fille De Perth at Compiegne

Magazine article Musical Opinion

La Jolie Fille De Perth at Compiegne

Article excerpt

LA JOLIE FILLE DE PERTH AT COMPIEGNE

Bizet's delightful but seldom performed La jolie file de Perth was a natural choice to open Pierre Jourdan' s enterprising, nearly all-French Season at Compiegne. The work has a tangled performance history which makes it almost as difficult to present authentically as Don Carlos. Bizet left three published editions, all of which were explored by Jourdan in concocting his own version, which was Premiered on 11 October.

The opera has a complicated plot turning on the rivalry of the weapon maker Henry Smith, the apprentice Ralph and the libertine Duke of Rothsay for the love of the beautiful Catherine Glover. The libretto is based freely on Scott's novel The Fair Maid of Perth, set in Medieval Scotland, where Jourdan wisely left it. Costumes were suited to the epoch and the characters mostly portrayed as readers of Scott's tale might imagine them. Decor was outre, however, and its creator, Jean-Pierre Capeyron, claimed to reflect such diverse influences as Kandinsky, Magritte and the film makers George Lucas and Kurosawa. The result was an intriguing series of stage pictures which unfortunately relegated the Choristers, who should have featured as a motley, medieval throng, to invisibility behind the scenes. It was a mistake, too, to depict the Second Act nocturnal Masquerade in terms of Marschner-like romanticism since there is nothing of romantic spookiness about Bizet's music.

Inva Mula was a commanding, charismatic Catherine with an immaculate legato but her tone tended to become squally under pressure and there was occasional poor intonation in the florid ravings of her Mad Scene. …

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