Thérèse overview – deliciously over-the-top drama places the cleaning soap into opera | Opera

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Despite the familiarity of the Meditation from Thaïs within the live performance corridor, Massenet’s operas haven’t fared properly within the UK, the place solely Manon could possibly be mentioned to have any form of place within the repertoire. But as a creator of pleasingly melodic and dramatically satisfying stage works the French composer knew his craft, as rare live performance performances of his lesser-known works attest.

Right here, contemporary from their current triumphant promenade staging of Candide, Scottish Opera offered a barely staged live performance efficiency of Thérèse, a piece receiving its Scottish premiere regardless of being written on the flip of the twentieth century. The opera is a three-handed melodrama set in opposition to the backdrop of the early, bloodthirsty days of the French Revolution. Girondists Thérèse and André have taken over the stewardship of the chateau vacated by a fleeing aristocrat, André’s childhood pal Armand. In fact there’s a twist: Thérèse was beforehand in love with Armand earlier than she married André, a truth of which André is blissfully unaware.

The love triangle performs out in opposition to the backdrop of political foment, Massenet juxtaposing the intimate, private drama in opposition to the impersonal machine of the revolution in his music. As a two-act opera the motion may be very a lot telescoped reasonably than expanded: it takes roughly 10 minutes for the primary reference to the Marseillaise to emerge and by the top of the primary half hour Thérèse and Armand are reunited. There’s no time for gradual character exposition, as an alternative the drama whirls on at a brisk tempo, all romantic angst and passionate outbursts.

Dramas set in opposition to a backdrop of the French Revolution not often finish properly and Thérèse isn’t any exception, though, not like Poulenc, Massenet stops in need of having his protagonists assembly their grisly ends centre stage. As an alternative, on the climax of the opera Thérèse abandons singing for theatrical declamation, as if at that second music can not include her feelings. It’s pure melodrama, with all of the over-the-top depth of a daytime cleaning soap opera and tremendously enjoyable to look at.

A lot of the success of the efficiency is all the way down to mezzo soprano Justina Gringytė’s magnificent efficiency as Thérèse, her gorgeously wealthy tones giving us excessive emotion wrapped in superbly idiomatic French fashion. She has strong though not fairly equal assist from her male counterparts, with bass-baritone Dingle Yandell as André and tenor Shengzhi Ren negotiating the at occasions perilously excessive vocal writing of Armand, though not completely comfy. But with the orchestra of Scottish Opera underneath the baton of French conductor Alexandra Cravero luxuriating within the swoops and sighs of Massenet’s rating, it made for a pleasant quick night within the theatre; a slice of melodrama reasonably than the entire gateau.

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