Tuesday, April 27, 2010

World Premiere: L'Amour Coupable by Thierry Pécou

 Monument to Corneille in front of Theatre des Arts (Opera House) in Rouen

L'Amour Coupable,  Opéra  de Rouen, April 25, 2010

 Conductor Jean Deroyer
Director Stephan Grögler

Comte Almaviva Edwin Crossley Mercer
Comtesse Almaviva Jacqueline Mayeur
Suzanne Gaëlle Méchaly
Figaro Matthieu Lécroart
Léon Almaviva Mathias Vidal
Honoré Béjart Arnaud Marzorati
Florestine Natacha Kowalski

As I mentioned it previously, L'Amour Coupable [The Guilty Love] is a newly created opera commissioned by the Opéra  de Rouen. Libretto, based on the the Beaumarchais's play La Mère coupable [The Guilty Mother], was written by Eugène Green, and the music was composed by Thierry Pécou,. After two-three years of work the opera was finally premiered past Friday, April 23 - 2010 in Rouen. I was lucky to be able to go and see the second of three scheduled shows. I won't recount the synopsis --that you can read  here-- but will rather focus on the show itself.

Naturally, it was a classical-descriptive production since the public is not familiar neither to the play nor to the opera. In the sets there was a number of headless manequins to illustrate the hard post-Revolution times in France when the heads of aristocrats flied off every day. The intrigue in such an environment becomes heavy, but the funny twists of Beaumarchais still work very well. 

I should emphasize a very inspiring musical direction by a young and talented Jean Deroyer. I would not be surprised if the Pécou's score hits the cord with the broader audience and survives longer than his predecessors who tried to compose an opera after this Beaumarchais' play. Yes, this is a contemporary opera, with everything that definition might entail. However, you never get a lump of atonal mess, except for a few measures here and there but they are seem well inserted in a coherent --yet overall complex-- composition. Even more importantly,  Pécou never fetch the vulgar melodies to produce a crowd-pleaser (such as the case with e.g. 1984).  Also there you can pick the moments when you feel a sweet melody would come but as soon as you get to that idea he [Pécou] surprises you with an extra sound from an unexpected instrument to interfere with the first melody, and so on to eventually grow into a vibrant structure of many different styles. With all that being said, you could tell there was an intention by the composer to remain faithful to the times of Beaumarchais, and at the same time to leave imprint of the times in which the opera was composed. I would prefer to listen to it once again but from the first go I very much liked what I was given to listen to [it is about 90 minutes long opera, obviously w/o intermission].

I am sure the opera will be presented elsewhere in the years to come. The story is wonderful (20 years after the Nozze), cleverly adapted to a dynamical and easy-to-read libretto, so that on the stage you have a delightful piece of theater, with the music that brings the depth and the whole experience to breathe the 21st century. Like the play, the music is dynamical, full of surprises and never becomes monotonous. Contrary to many contemporary composers, Pécou is kind to the singers, i.e. the score is reasonably easy to sing. All the singers did a good job but three of them stood out anyway: Edwin Crossley-Mercer  in a full command of his legato whether it points to his upper or to his lower register.
Mathias Vidal was a surprise because I didn't expect such a brightness of his voice. Finally, the scenically and vocally hyper-invested Arnaud Marzorati brings to life the negative character, Honoré Béjart.Props worthy performance by these three. The others were fine.

Chorus in the CC -- you can see the sets and the costumes

Matthieu Lécroart (Figaro), Arnaud Marzoratti (Béjart), Edwin Crossley Mercer (Count Almaviva), Jacqueline Mayeur (Countess Almaviva), Mathias Vidal (Léon Almaviva)

Here you can also see --next to Léon Almaviva-- Natacha Kowalski  (Florestine)

Inside the Opéra de Rouen

Auditorium of the Opéra de Rouen looks like a mini-version of the Nederlandse Opera in Amsterdam

1 comment:

  1. Strange to know that the conclusion of a trilogy tackled by Mozart and Rossini hasn't had much echo worldwide (I live in italy, and I hadn't heard about L'amour coupable until I accidentally read this article). La mère coupable is definetly worse than beaumarchais' previous plays, but it contains some ineteresting ideas; I'd be curious to see how Pécou and Green have developed them.
    Any chance that the opera is represented in Florence in the next future?