Posts Tagged ‘Poulenc’

Poulenc DVD Back On Market

Friday, August 18th, 2017

Dialogues des Carmélites on DVD and Blu-ray from BelAir Classiques

Published: August 18, 2017

MUNICH — BelAir Classiques and Mezzo TV have succeeded in getting a ban overturned on their sale and airing, respectively, of a 2010 filmed staging of Dialogues des Carmélites made here at Bavarian State Opera.

The ban, or arrêt, had been imposed in 2015 by the Cour d’appel in Paris following a complaint by heirs of Francis Poulenc and the opera’s source novelist Georges Bernanos.

In that court’s judgment, “the staging by Dmitri Tcherniakov realizes in its final scene a dénaturation of the [opera] and thus infringes the moral rights of authors attached to it.” Dénaturation translates as adulteration or falsification.

Indeed the Russian director substitutes in the climactic scene a deadly gas blast and one self-sacrifice for the serial guillotining of the titular nuns laid out graphically in Poulenc’s music.

But France’s higher Cour de cassation saw the case differently in its June 27 ruling, according to BelAir and Mezzo attorney Judith Adam-Caumeil of Cabinet Adam-Caumeil, a law firm specialized in Franco-German business.

It overturned the ban, she said, because no alteration had been made to libretto or score and the Cour d’appel had admitted that the opera’s essential themes, such as hope, martyrdom, grace, and the communion of saints, dear to Bernanos and Poulenc, had been respected.

Declaring the case a “landmark” with regard to “artistic freedom of staging in French law,” she suggested the ruling would apply equally to “theater, ballet or cinema.”

Not at issue was copyright, even with Dialogues remaining rights-protected in Europe and America, although this status kept BStO and its director from tampering with the words and music.

Adam-Caumeil: “Tcherniakov certainly brought his own vision to the original work by altering the final scene, but the music and text remained unchanged. The essential themes … were respected because the nuns were ready to die … . Thus, no dénaturation of the primary work can be blamed on Tcherniakov.”

BStO joined in appealing the ban. Dialogues most recently appeared on the company’s National Theater stage early last year, in defiance of a letter from the heirs (but not of the ban), and will in 2020 return, said BelAir distributor Naxos in an Aug. 4 statement.

BelAir and Mezzo can now profit from the content as before, and Naxos early this month relaunched BelAir’s DVD along with a new Blu-ray edition.

Illustration © BelAir Classiques

Related posts:
Poulenc Heirs v. Staatsoper
Ettinger Drives Aida
Mélisande as Hotel Clerk
Return of the Troubadour
Kušej Saps Verdi’s Forza

Voix and Cav

Tuesday, April 25th, 2017

Anna Caterina Antonacci at the Teatro Comunale di Bologna

Published: April 25, 2017

BOLOGNA — Teatro Comunale’s busy direttore musicale Michele Mariotti, 38, ventured his 33rd and 34th operas* this month with a foray in verismo, the terse tribulations of Cavalleria rusticana, and, incongruously, La voix humaine, a vehicle for the Bologna-schooled soprano, former mezzo, Anna Caterina Antonacci. He chose big voices in Mascagni’s melodramma in un atto (1889) — Carmen Topciu a smooth-toned Santuzza at the April 9 opening, Marco Berti a steely Turiddu, Gezim Myshketa an engaging, richly projected Alfio — and took a broad, detailed view of the score, tracing its melodies grandly and milking its dark sonorities. His orchestra provided luxuriant support, but it was the ardent and incisive singing of Andrea Faidutti’s Coro del Teatro Comunale di Bologna that left the firmest musical impression. Antonacci communicated handsomely through the notes as Elle in Poulenc’s tragédie lyrique en un acte (1958), before the break, without always correctly projecting Cocteau’s vowels. Mariotti proved a restrained collaborator here. None of the musicians were helped by Sicilian stage director Emma Dante, whose unspectacular concepts limited both operas. The Poulenc she placed in a nuthouse, with Elle on an unconnected receiver, thus forcing the elegant Antonacci to enliven not Cocteau’s suspenseful telephone call but what amounted to a 40-minute tantrum. Six mimes, two of them nurses with needles, buoyed the effort. The Mascagni she set against a black background, relying on corny props and costumes to summon vital notions of Sicily while she made points about men’s abuse of women. Crucifixes (a trademark of hers) and sad-sacred imagery suggested her confusion of Easter Day with Good Friday.

“Trovo bellissimi i mimi. Elle ha tentato il suicidio per la disperazione di essere stata abbandonata ed è ricoverata in clinica e da li fa una telefonata virtuale all’ ex-amante. Infatti il telefono non è collegato.” — Angela Schiavina

[*ROSSINI: Il barbiere di Siviglia (2005, Salerno); L’italiana in Algeri (2007, Bologna); La gazza ladra (2009, Bologna); Sigismondo (2010, Pesaro); La Cenerentola (2011, Bologna); Matilde di Shabran (2012, Pesaro); La donna del lago (2013, London); Guillaume Tell (2013, Pesaro); Semiramide (2017, Munich); DONIZETTI: Don Gregorio (2006, Wexford); Don Pasquale (2009, Torino); Lucia di Lammermoor (June 2017, Bologna); PUCCINI: Gianni Schicchi (2006, Fano); ZANINELLI: Snow White (2006, Firenze); VERDI: Simon Boccanegra (2007, Bologna); Nabucco (2008, Reggio Emilia); Rigoletto (2008, Lima); La traviata (2009, Macerata); Il trovatore (2011, Busseto); Un ballo in maschera (2015, Bologna); Attila (2016, Bologna); I due Foscari (2016, Milan); La forza del destino (Sept. 2017, Amsterdam); BELLINI: I puritani (2008, Mahón); Norma (2012, Torino); BIZET: Carmen (2010, Bologna); MOZART: Idomeneo (2010, Bologna); Le nozze di Figaro (2012, Bologna); Così fan tutte (2014, Bologna); Die Zauberflöte (2015, Bologna); DALLAPICCOLA: Il prigioniero (2011, Modena); FERRERO: Risorgimento! (2011, Modena); MASSENET: Werther (2016, Bologna); MEYERBEER: Les Huguenots (2016, Berlin); MASCAGNI: Cavalleria rusticana (2017, Bologna); and POULENC: La voix humaine (2017, Bologna).]

Photo © Rocco Casaluci

Related posts:
Mariotti Cheers Up Bologna
Parsifal the Environmentalist
Winter Discs
Mariotti North of the Alps
Kuhn Paces Bach Oratorio

Poulenc Heirs v. Staatsoper

Thursday, January 7th, 2016

Bavarian State Opera’s 2010 staging of Dialogues des Carmélites

Published: January 7, 2016

MUNICH — Bavarian State Opera will defy the heirs of Francis Poulenc and proceed with revival performances of its literally explosive staging of Dialogues des Carmélites later this month, the company said today.

The 2010 production by Dmitri Tcherniakov departs from the scheme of the composer and the source novelist, Georges Bernanos, in several ways and has been described by the heirs as a “trahison.” Not the least of its transgressions is a substitution in the climactic scene: a deadly gas blast and one self-sacrifice (by Blanche) replace the serial guillotining of the titular nuns laid out graphically in the music.

In a Dec. 23 letter to the Munich company, the heirs demanded that the “rights-infringing staging of the work (ihren Rechten verletzenden Aufführung des Werkes)” be put to “no further use.”

But a slow-won French court victory for the heirs last October constrained only BelAir Classiques and Mezzo TV from, respectively, selling DVDs of the production and screening it. The estates of both Poulenc and Bernanos had begun legal proceedings in October 2012, perhaps not aware of the nature of Tcherniakov’s efforts until BelAir’s DVD release that year. The last onstage revival came, by coincidence, the same month.

Poulenc’s 1956 opera is evidently less tightly controlled, or protected, by his heirs than is, for example, Gershwin’s 21-years-older Porgy and Bess by the American composer’s estate.

In justifying the resolve to proceed, Bavarian State Opera’s Geschäftsführender Direktor Roland Schwab said: “In the context of an earnest grappling with the work, the stage direction must have the freedom to deviate from history. Thus the work is not disfigured, but rather its ideas are depicted from today’s viewpoint.”

The company also noted it had made no alteration to libretto or score. This despite the stripping out of all Christian reference as well as the guillotining from the stage action. BStO Intendant Nikolaus Bachler is a firm, one might say notorious, defender of unfettered Regietheater.

Not only will the show go on, but Bavarian State Opera is supporting BelAir Classiques and Mezzo TV in their appeal of the October court decision, the company said.

Scheduled to sing the opera Jan. 23 to Feb. 1 are Christiane Karg as Blanche, Anna Christy as Constance, Anne Schwanewilms as Lidoine and Stanislas de Barbeyrac as the Chevalier. Susanne Resmark and Sylvie Brunet reprise their roles as Marie and de Croissy on the banned 2010 DVD. Bertrand de Billy conducts.

Photo © Wilfried Hösl

Related posts:
Poulenc DVD Back On Market
Thielemann’s Rosenkavalier
Mélisande as Hotel Clerk
Tonhalle Lights Up the Beyond
Antonini Works Alcina’s Magic

With Viotti, MRO Looks Back

Thursday, November 19th, 2015

Doors of the Herz-Jesu-Kirche in Munich

Published: November 19, 2015

MUNICH — Eleven years ago the late Marcello Viotti quit as chief conductor of the Münchner Rundfunk-Orchester because he foresaw existential cuts in its budget. Happily the MRO survived, and today thrives. Tasked with exploring rare repertory, it is artistically the livelier of BR’s two orchestras, forcibly more daring than the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra and free not to endlessly regurgitate Bruckner and Mahler. Its CD output offers a peek: Des Simplicius Simplicissimus Jugend, Trouble in Tahiti, Braunfels’ Verkündigung, Pärt’s Te Deum. Much credit belongs with current Künstlerischer Leiter Ulf Schirmer, who has fostered a rich string sound. But another MRO dimension is the Paradisi gloria concert series, a legacy of Viotti that leavens each season much as Alexander Pereira’s Ouverture spirituelle brightens the Salzburg Festival.

That string sound and the spiritual programming overlapped poignantly last Friday (Nov. 13) in a sold-out concert at the Herz-Jesu-Kirche, a chic shoebox of a venue in glass and louvered wood near Schloss Nymphenburg. 25-year-old Lorenzo Viotti, winner of the latest Salzburg Festival Young Conductors Award, manned his father’s onetime podium for Poulenc’s Sept répons des ténèbres framed by grief-laden essays of Messiaen, Les offrandes oubliées and Le tombeau resplendissant.

The essays comprise baldly contrasted panels, with slow material that extends unrestrainedly. Both were written before the Avignon-born organist turned 23 and in the wake of the loss of his mother. Offrandes (1930), a triptych, centers on a wall-thumping tantrum titled “The Sin” for full orchestra; its serene, rather bland outer panels are in the strings alone. Tombeau (1931) more astutely channels the composer’s anger and acceptance in four sections, vif-lent-vif-lent, which Viotti and the MRO traced with riveting precision.

The nature of Poulenc’s suite, a personal Passion piece, brought to mind the elder Viotti’s untimely death ten years ago, at age 50, not long after that anxious resignation. There was an elegance to his conducting, a rhythmic subtlety and rare degree of insight in lighter-limbed scores. Qualities much missed. Sept répons des ténèbres (1961) sets texts chanted during the Holy Triduum, specifically in prayerful vigilance as candles burn out, to signal the extinguishing of Jesus’ life. The verse-and-respond form serves only as a basis for Poulenc, who boldly and equally deploys chorus and orchestra, and with chiseled calculation. By turns nostalgic, biting or sour, his ideas concisely distinguish each répons and leave intense flavor. Only the relatively long last piece permits contemplation: Ecce quomodo moritur justus (See How the Just Man Dies), spun out wistfully over a rhythmic ostinato.

Simona Brüninghaus’s shaky but boyish soprano projected the innocence in the limited solo part (intended by Poulenc for treble voice, possibly a projection of himself). Although not always clear in its Latin, the BR Chor navigated the often sharp contours with expertise and, for Judas mercator pessimus (Judas, the Worst Merchant), a certain brutality. Viotti mustered grandeur in Tenebrae factae sunt (There Was Darkness) and due gravity for the brass-tinged Sepulto Domino (The Lord Having Been Buried) despite mishaps in the MRO’s winds. Throughout, the conductor kept balances in check and conveyed confidence in the music’s ability to explain itself — a resignation of a different kind.

Photo © Allmann Sattler Wappner Architekten

Related posts:
Spirit of Repušić
Carydis Woos Bamberg
Muti Crowns Charles X
Jansons! Petrenko! Gergiev!
Arcanto: One Piece at a Time