I just returned from Compiègne, red-eyed, from one of the most profound moments in my lifetime, the Bizet/Halévy opera, “Noé”. How many have dreamed of what it must have been like to be at the first performance of Tosca or Traviata? It was like that tonight for me. The music of Bizet, as clearly most is, is some of his best and , if there’s a God in heaven, singers will soon be killing each other for the roles in the productions around the world. James Morris could sing the title role as a crowning achievement of his career if he could kill Hampson. The denunciation aria alone is enough to insure any baritone’s fame. Alagna will throw a fit if he is not cast to sing the music written for Ituriel. The love scenes sizzle, there’s an orgy on stage, and Fleming gets to show her still presentable midriff in the delicious role of Saraï . At the end a white dove flies off into the theater. Pierre Jourdan should be sainted. This may be the greatest achievement of his long career.
Don’t believe me? France Musiques is broadcasting this over the internet on the 23rd at 7:30 pm CET. Judge for yourself. It is certainly among his most inspired writing and perhaps one of the great operas of the nineteenth century. Information: The opera was finished by an unknown hand before its forgotten performances in Germany in the 1880s. This “hand” wrote the finale by taking Bizet’s Chanson d’amore for the principals to sing as the emerge from the ark. He (or she) also took the ballet music (very fine) from his “Djamileh”. It is recorded (with cameras) and they are certainly bringing it back in the Spring of 2006.
Frank Cadenhead, Paris
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