Wednesday, May 5, 2010

We will barock you (1): Acis and Galatea at La cité de la musique

 Acis and Galatea, La cité de la musique, May 4, 2010

Joanne Lunn and Ed Lyon

Philip Pickett  conductor
Ed Lyon  Acis
Joanne Lunn  Galatée
Michael George  Polyphème
Joseph Cornwell  Damon
     Andrew King  Coridon
Faye Newton  
Jelena Kordic
Simon Grant

New London Consort

This was the day-1 of my 2 days baroque-marathon ;)

I'm not a big fan of the baroque operas because of the far fetched stories immersed in a very loooong pages of music that usually after a couple of hours becomes too monotonous to me. Listening to the baroque music for an hour has always been a big pleasure to me, but more than two often proved to be a tall challenge too. Now you can probably understand a size of my admiration for the phenomenal production of The Fairy Queen at the Opéra Comique this year. It lasted for 4 hours and I loved it (NB it is available on DVD ---> it's definitely a must-have-DVD!)

To be totally honest I planned to go to Pleyel and listen to Nelson Freire performing, but when I spotted that Ed Lyon would sing in Acis and Galatea (he was singing divinely in The Fairy Queen) I changed my mind. I also thought this opera in concert would be a good way to tune my ears and brain brain to the baroque music because tonight is the premiere of La Calisto and I plan to go.

My surprise was that Acis and Galatea is not a typically long-winded  Handel opera. Altogether the opera was about 2 hours long, including 20-25 mins of intermission.  Just about perfectly compatible with my attention span. The score and the story are what you'd call typically Handelian (see a short synopsis from Wiki).

Philip Pickett and New London Consort were excellent in that they never let the music become repetitive or monotonous. The fact that the concert took place in the auditorium of  La cité de la musique, rather than Salle Pleyel, helped a lot too. The problem with the baroque concerts in big concert halls is that the musicians are constantly trying to higher the volume and in the process neither the singers nor the orchestra can express the subtleties of the score. If they play and sing with their  natural finesse, you don't get the fullness of the sound -- instead, it falls apart before reaching the end of the auditorium. So, last night, it was all good: the hall, the artists, the opera - everything!

Of course, Ed Lyon dominated. Not only because his was the title role, but also because he's a terrific singer who in this genre sounds natural. The way he projects his luminous and voluminous voice is magnificent. Really great stuff! Joanne Lunn was very good too. Her voice is not as big but she guides it beautifully to make the most expressive moments of her arias particularly beautiful (her final aria was a gem!) The other members of the cast were very good too. As it's usual for an opera in concert, the cast members acted as if the opera was semi-staged. That definitely added to make the evening more enjoyable.

A big thanks to all of them!

 New London Consort

 Philip Pickett 

 Michael George,  Joanne Lunn, Joseph Cornwell, Anrew King, Faye Newton, Simon Grant

Jelena Kordic, Joanne Lunn, and Ed Lyon

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