Tuesday, June 21, 2011

"Les Huguenots" Triumphant at Théâtre de la Monnaie in Brussels

"Drawing hearty performances from orchestra and chorus, Marc Minkowski conducts an admirably full account of the opera that runs to nearly five hours (including two intermissions). From his eloquent shaping of the Lutheran chorale 'Ein feste Burg' at the outset, Mr. Minkowski seeks out the music’s expressive potential. He is alert to fine points of orchestration in a score that never sounds formulaic. Clearly at one with the decision to emphasize Marguerite’s sexuality, Marlis Petersen, an acclaimed Lulu from Alban Berg’s opera, sings with seductive brilliance and moves with almost erotic allure — an unforgettable portrayal. Mireille Delunsch stews convincingly over Valentine’s conflict between love for Raoul and loyalty to family and religion. Julia Lezhneva, dressed in hotel attire, looks cherubic as Urbain and sings delightfully in both the page’s arias. The tenor Eric Cutler brings a winning combination of full- and head-voiced singing to the challenging role of Raoul. Soon after he sang his heart out in the fourth-act duet with Valentine — the most popular love duet of the 19th century — he shined again in Raoul’s taxing aria in Act 5. The baritones Philippe Rouillon and Jean-François Lapointe are excellent as the Comtes de Bris and de Nevers, respectively. And as Raoul’s retainer Marcel, the keen-edged bass Jérôme Varnier deals well with the crusty Huguenot’s quasi-comic moments and his stirring celestial vision in the face of death. The performances are double cast. Because of its impact on other composers, few works can be said to have changed the course of opera history as did Les Huguenots. Anyone who cares about opera should see this production." [Source]

An interesting promotional photograph for the opera is after the jump.

(Photos: Clärchen und Matthias Baus)

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