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Monday 20 June 2011

Cocteau Voices

La Voix Humaine
Linbury theatre

A half ballet, half opera evening from ROH2, and not a particularly enjoyable one. I am in no way an expert with regards to dance - all I know is when I like something and when something moves me, and when it does not. The ballet on offer didn't really capture my attention or interest, other than the fact that the (fairly dull) music was body shakingly, almost offensively loud. Actually quite enjoyable! Anyway, I'll leave this half to the ballet critics.

Poulenc's La Voix Humaine made up the second half of the programme. It's not a work I know all that well, and this is the first time I've seen it staged. It's certainly an intriguing score, and strikes me as being excrutiatingly diffiult for the performer, both vocally and dramatically. And for so little reward! The little moments where Poulenc allows a few bars of lyricism between the endless low lying parlando, are gorgeous as one expects with Poulenc's vocal music, but are so few and far between. The score is extremely repetitive, dancing at the edge of banality, but something about it kept me compelled despite the tedium. I found it hard to sympathise with such an irritating central character though and would surely have put the phone down ten minutes into her hysterical perrorations had I been on the receiving end of them. And the only dramatic events of the opera, such as they are, the constant interrupting from another caller, is not at all funny (is it meant to be?) and again grates the thrid, fourth, fifth time. But as I say, there's certainly something arresting going on here, hard to say what... Will have listen more to it I fear.

Nuccia Focile clearly has a gorgeous voice, glittering and beautiful, but it was completely under utilised here - the nature of the piece I guess, but still it felt very frustrating. The production is sung in English, though Focile does a french accent throughout which works well to keep the peculiar French atmosphere of the piece, but maybe was the reason why the character irritated me. Surely she's meant to be more sympathetic than here. Whether the boredom I felt was from the score of from the performer I'm not sure, but she certainly didn't rescue it from tedium, if that is what is required to make this score live! I wouldn't go again.

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