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La Voix Humaine / Dido & Aeneas: Opera North
La Voix Humaine (Sung in English) A woman is sprawled alone on her bed. ‘It looks like the scene of a murder’ said Jean Cocteau, who wrote the play on which Poulenc’s opera is based. But the woman isn’t dead. She gets up and makes to leave, when the phone rings. It is her ex-lover. During the next 40 minutes we hear one side of an increasingly desperate conversation in which the woman tries anything to win him back. But it’s no use – she can’t get through to him. He hangs up, and she’s left whispering ‘Je t’aime’ to nobody.
La Voix Humaine is short in length, but not on emotional impact. Through the lone voice of the woman, Poulenc expresses all the pain and fear of rejection in the rawest fashion, whilst enveloping her voice in music of caressing warmth and sensuality. Lesley Garrett makes her return to the operatic stage in a work of rare originality and stark emotional honesty.
Dido And Aeneas (Sung in English) Aeneas, a Trojan prince who has escaped the devastation of his city at the hands of the Greeks, lands in Carthage where Dido is queen. She falls deeply in love with him, but evil forces are at work, bent on her destruction. Aeneas is tricked into abandoning her, and overwhelmed with grief, she dies.
Purcell takes a universal epic and makes of it an intimate human drama, packing a magnificently rich variety of music into the work’s hour-long duration, much of it composed expressly to be danced. This concise masterpiece stood unchallenged as the finest English opera for more than three centuries and there is still no more powerfully moving expression of noble resignation in the face of death than Dido’s great lament ‘When I am laid in earth’.
Opera North has established itself as one of the leading arts companies in the United Kingdom and one of the most imaginative opera companies in Europe. The Company is committed to bringing a wide variety of high quality work to established audiences for one of the most exciting art forms in Britain today.
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→ Leeds 4 min walk