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Subject: Benjamin Bernheim Recital, Bordeaux 18 Jan 2018
From: Donald Levine <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:Donald Levine <[log in to unmask]>
Date:Thu, 25 Jan 2018 08:00:59 -0700

text/plain (87 lines)

Last week, on Thursday, Jan 18, young French tenor Benjamin Bernheim gave a
wonderful recital at the Grand-Theatre de Bordeaux.  It was the first time
I was able to really hear him and a wonderful recital it was.  It was
actually his debut solo recital.  The repertoire was entirely French
consisting of songs of Duparc, Gounod & Faure with arias from Manon, Romeo
et Juliette, Les Contes d'Hoffmann and Carmen.  His collaborator was
pianist Florence Boissolle and expert and expressive she was.

As this was his first solo recital, a bit of nervousness at the beginning
quickly vanished as he settled down and became more at home.  His demeanor
in the song s was serious and a bit stiff.  He opened up and seemed more at
home with the operatic selections.  The songs were Duparc: L'Invitation au
voyage, Phidyle, La Vie anterieure, Gounod: L'Absent, Faure: Au cimitiere,
Chanson d'amour, Larmes and Puisque jai mis ma levre a ta coupe.  Following
were excerpts from Manon, en fermand les yeux, Je suis seul...Ah fuyez,
Werther, Pourquoi me reveiller, Romeo et Juliette, Ah, leve-toi soleil,
C'est la!...Salut tombeau, Carmen La fleur que tu m'avais jetee, from Les
Contes d'Hoffman La Legende de Kleinzach and finally a smoldering final
duet from Carmen with mezzo-soprano Aude Extremo.

The songs were sensitively and beautifully performed with just the right
balance of tonal beauty, dynamic control and attention to the words. The
arias showed a passionate singer with no problems at any part of his
voice.  The top was true and well placed.  The tone never pushed to
extremes.  He has a marvelous control over his voice and the sound is
beautiful.  It is a French tenor in the best sense of the words.  I was
particularly taken with the Kleinzach.  I've never quite heard it performed
as he did or I should say, they did.  His accompanist Florence Boissolle
who did a wonderful job also sang/spoke some of the lines and rejoinders
and the effect of her playing and turning her head and taking part was
novel and to say the least, unexpected.  Finally, he was joined by
mezzo-soprano Aude Extremo, whom I've never heard but she was a damn good
Carmen.  Passionate but never vulgar.  A good match for his Jose.  Like her
Jose, she was good looking and had a nice presence.  I would like to hear
her again.   Her rep includes major roles from Rossini  (she's doing
Semiramide soon), Dalila, Venus through Verdi, Amneris.  She also sings
more lyric roles.

If you can get Medici TV, this concert will be available until April 18,
2018.  As for Benjamin Bernheim, his season includes  Rodolfo in Boheme at
the Royal Opera,   Nemorino in Vienna in February, his Lyric Opera debut as
Faust in March, a concert in Paris with Olga Peretyako, Alfredo in Berlin
and Zurich and other concerts.  He has yet to sing at the Met.  I think his
Faust at the Lyric might actually be his American debut.

Try to catch this recital on Medici.  I think he is a really great
additional to the scene.  I love hearing a tenor who sings French to the
manner born (obviously) with as much voice and musicianship as Bernheim.
It was exciting to discover him, the same way I felt about 25 years ago
when I first heard Roberto Alagna at the Theatre de Champs Elysees in Paris
- when I first heard Alagna, I was absolutely thrilled at the discover of a
great tenor.

If you have never been there, the Grand-Theatre de Bordeaux is one of the
most beautiful opera houses in the world (certainly in France), maybe the
most beautiful.  Built by Victor Louis in 1780, it not only was the model
for Charles Garnier when he designed the Palais Garnier in Paris but is I
think the only major opera house in Europe from the 18th century and early
19th that has never burned down or been destroyed.  It is a jewel box of an
auditorium set amid one of the great classical buildings of France.
Definitely worth a detour and not only because Bordeaux is the center of
the greatest vineyards in the world, but also a graceful beautiful city
with a magnificent 17th and 18th century core that has been marvelously
preserved and the riverfront on the Garonne is lined with fabulous
buildings.  Its almost a mini-Paris in parts.  For the most part, it
survived WW2 intact.  Also of interest are the great WW2 U Boat pens in the
port.  These massive concrete bunkers have survived because they were too
massive strong to be economically demolished.  They are quite a site (in
the port, north of the city center).



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