The Human Voice
Francis Poulenc / Anna Thorvaldsdottir
New production by the Opéra national du Rhin.
La Voix humaine.
A one-act tragic opera by Francis Poulenc
based on the play of the same name by Jean Cocteau.
Premiered on 6 February 1959 at the Salle Favart, Paris.
Orchestral work by Anna Thorvaldsdottir,
composer-in-residence with the Iceland Symphony Orchestra.
Premiered on 24 November 2011 at the Harpa in Reykjavik.
Duration: 1hr20 without an interval.
Musical Direction Ariane Matiakh Director Katie Mitchell Decor Alex Eales Costumes Sussie Juhlin-Wallén Lighting Bethany Gupwell Video production Grant Gee Orchestre philharmonique de Strasbourg
“Hello! Is it you? We were cut off... No, no, I waited. Someone rang. I hung up and there was no-one there. Are you sleepy? You are good to have called...” A familiar scene: a woman tries to get hold of her lover, but this evening the telephone line is playing up. Between unspoken words and the platitudes exchanged about the day, another story unfolds beneath the surface. A painful, unresolved break-up and an unhappy existence are compounded by an overwhelming need for affection. A beautifully banal story that conveys the voice of wounded humanity. But if we could turn back time, would the same actions yield the same results?
A touching and avant-gardist monologue by Jean Cocteau, The Human Voice was elevated to the ranks of tragic opera by musical genius Francis Poulenc—although it took forty years for the two friends to collaborate on a joint oeuvre. Soprano Patricia Petibon assumes the challenging role of the lone protagonist, ably assisted by conductor Ariane Matiakh. The realistic setting created by director Katie Mitchell has her trademark poetic precision that brings a fresh cinematographic epilogue to this drama accompanied by a commanding symphony from Icelandic composer Anna Thorvaldsdottir, where past memories and an alternative reality are interwoven in a tale of impossible reminiscence.
Overtitled in French, German