La Voix Humaine & Dido and Aeneas
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Opera North continue their residency at the Grand Opera House Belfast on Friday 8 March with a double-bill of Poulenc's hauntingly-beautiful La voix humaine, followed by Purcell's intimate drama Dido and Aeneas.
La voix humaine (Sung in English, lasts approximately 40 minutes)
Lesley Garrett makes her long-awaited return to the operatic stage in a work of rare originality and stark emotional honesty.
A woman is sprawled alone on her bed. ‘It looks like the scene of a murder’ said Jean Cocteau, who wrote the play on which Poulenc’s opera is based. But the woman isn’t dead. She gets up and makes to leave, when the phone rings. It is her ex-lover.
During the next 40 minutes we hear one side of an increasingly desperate conversation in which the woman tries anything to win him back. But it’s no use – she can’t get through to him. He hangs up, and she’s left whispering ‘Je t’aime’ to nobody.
La voix humaine is short in length, but not on emotional impact. Through the lone voice of the woman, Poulenc expresses all the pain and fear of rejection in the rawest fashion, whilst enveloping her voice in music of caressing warmth and sensuality.
Dido and Aeneas (Sung in English, lasts approximately 1 hour)
Aeneas, a Trojan prince who has escaped the devastation of his city at the hands of the Greeks, lands in Carthage where Dido is queen. She falls deeply in love with him, but evil forces are at work, bent on her destruction. Aeneas is tricked into abandoning her, and overwhelmed with grief, she dies.
Purcell takes a universal epic and makes it into an intimate human drama, packing a magnificently rich variety of music into the work’s hour-long duration, much of it composed expressly to be danced. This concise masterpiece stood unchallenged as the finest English opera for more than three centuries and there is still no more powerfully moving expression of noble resignation in the face of death than Dido’s great lament ‘When I am laid in earth’.
Pamela Helen Stephen, who sang the title role in Opera North’s recent production of Handel’s Giulio Cesare, heads the cast in Aletta Collins’ deeply moving production.
Directions to The Grand Opera House
Great Victoria Street Train Station and the Europa Bus Centre are located on Great Victoria Street, next door to the Grand Opera House. Rail services are available on the Bangor, Londonderry, Larne and Portadown lines and cross-border Enterprise services to Dublin are also available. The Europa Bus Centre provides services across Northern Ireland. Timetables can be viewed at www.translink.co.uk or contact 028 9066 6630 for further information.