Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
|Laurent Petitgirard, Nathalie Stutzmann, Nicolas Rivenq|
Petitgirard - Joseph Merrick de Elephant Man / Stutzmann · Rivenq · Breault · Koch · Devellereau · Petitgirard
Fond, at times, of Ravel's stirring oboe-range tones, Laurent Petitgirard is likewise fond of the dancing quality of French impressionist composition. This is not to say that Petitgirard's first opera, Joseph Merrick dit... more »
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Fond, at times, of Ravel's stirring oboe-range tones, Laurent Petitgirard is likewise fond of the dancing quality of French impressionist composition. This is not to say that Petitgirard's first opera, Joseph Merrick dit Elephant Man is at all a dance piece, but only to note that the flurrying notes and cascading washes of strings run up against ominous horn calls and invoke impressionist techniques both obliquely and overtly. The story here is that of Joseph Merrick, whose rare condition, which many concluded was neurofibromatosis and others now claim was the even rarer Proteus syndrome, disfigured his face and earned him notoriety as the "Elephant Man." Petitgirard tracks Merrick through four acts--and a thoroughly moving libretto from Eric Nonn--demonstrating how the emergence of Merrick as a public spectacle signified the transition from the Victorian to the modern age. The music straddles both worlds, with much of it cloaked in hefty, sweeping string layers and classically operatic vocal breakthroughs from Nathalie Stutzmann (as Merrick) and the entire cast. The modern elements come through in the haunting shadows that Petitgirard creates behind Nonn's libretto and the pair's attention to the factual details of Merrick's life. Inevitably, Petitgirard's work will draw comparison to David Lynch's 1980 film. Petitgirard's use of choral segments to move the drama along is masterful, and the work reveals a singular talent, one that draws on the musical past (and present) but also goes beyond mere stylistic summation or pastiche and creates a moving, modern work that will have astonishingly broad appeal. --Andrew Bartlett
Worth a Listen
Andrea Moreno | Syracuse, NY United States | 04/05/2001
(3 out of 5 stars)
"I'm not sure I like this music - it's too swooshy and stringy for me, but I favor early music and am still getting used to these sounds. The singing, however, is fabulous. Each performance is distinctive and intelligent. Act 1 starts with a bang, with tenor Robert Breault's wonderfully grounded take on showman Tom Norman, and the music does a good job of expressing the clash between 19th & 20th century sensibilities. I don't love contralto Nathalie Stutzmann as Joseph Merrick. She sometimes sounds too womanly, which undermines the sexual implications in his relations with nurse Mary, and the loony coluratura of Act 4. What I like about her performance, though, is she never pushes for our sympathy - her Merrick is complex and smart. She even has a Great Moment in Opera in Act 3, with moody baritone Nicolas Rivenq, who is perfectly cast as Frederick Treves. Treves has been assuming that his patient is an imbecile and suddenly discovers his mistake. Stutzmann magically conveys Merrick's enjoyment of his doctor's confusion, as well as his genuine regard for him, and the widening crack in Treves' professional reserve is truly moving in Rivenq's hands. The death of Merrick (AFTER the rather goopy violin solo) is another instance of Stutzmann's superlative characterization, and the music is just right, conveying Merrick's desparation but ultimate strength. Altogether, there are enough places where music, libretto and acting mesh into interesting storytelling to make this opera a worthwhile listen."
Amazing Quality Modern Opera!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Lucien Manea | 06/25/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"If you like the orchestrations of Ravel, Richard Strauss, Rimsky-Korsakov, Mahler, Messiaen than buy this, that is if you can find it. Its so unfortunate that many great operas are not too popular. Also the sound quality is quite stunning!"