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HomeTheatreThe sheer creativeness and experience of Insula’s La Nuit des Rois is...

The sheer creativeness and experience of Insula’s La Nuit des Rois is immense. – Seen and Heard Worldwide

France R. Schumann, La Nuit des Rois: Soloists, accentus, Insula / Laurence Equilbey (conductor). Auditorium Patrick Devedjian, La Seine Musicale, Paris, 15.5.2023. (CC)

La Nuit des Rois (Might 2021) ©Julien Benhamou

Staging – Antonin Baudry
Video – Anatole Levilain-Clément
Costumes – Pétronille Salomé
Dramaturgy – Youness Anzane
Scenography – Emmanuelle Favre
Lighting – Cécile Trelluyer
Choreography – Marion Lévy, Chrystel Calvet

Ric Furman – The Web page, A Younger Man
Rachel Frenkel – Narrator
Tommi Hakala – Harpist, Triton
Rafał Pawnuk – The King
Camille Schnoor – The Queen
Adèle Clermont – The Princess
Ellen Glacone – The Nymph
Sébastien Brohler – Minstrel

R. SchumannVom Pagen und der Königstochter (1852); Des Sängers Fluch (1852); Nachtlied, Op.108 (1849)
BeethovenLeonore Prohaska Trauermarsch; König StephanGeistlicher Marsch

The sheer creativeness of Insula’s displays is mindboggling, from the Pastoral for the Planet (overview click on right here) to their astonishing tackle Mozart’s Requiem.

This time, it was the flip of two of the late ballads of Robert Schumann within the type of the ‘The Evening of Kings’ (La Nuit des Rois); expansive tales certainly – the booklet be aware for the live performance memorably refers to them as ‘frescoes’ – that lend themselves completely to the world of legend and, with Kings, Queens, Princes and Princesses, the land of the fairy story and, right here, royal intrigue. Love and curses, to not point out murders, populate this magical, medieval universe. We now have seen earlier than how skilled Insula is with the thought of projections, of establishing nearly immersive scenography, in Mozart, une journée particulaire (overview click on right here).

From the start it was Laurence Equilbey’s intention to conduct these items in a extremely dramatic presentation; she selected as collaborator Antonin Baudry, who had loved a big profession as a diplomat (which inserts the political undertones of the tales!). He shifted profession to film-maker, and Equilbey noticed his film The Wolf’s Name. Baudry additionally created the cartoon Quai d’Orsay underneath the pseudonym Abel Balzac, which is extremely related to the marginally comedian e book side of the projection. Proper from the off, the senses are assaulted by sound and color – and but Schumann’s music completely holds its personal because of the dynamic thrust of Equilbey’s course and early on, accentus (Equilbey’s world-class choir) assert their presence.

Schumann’s items had by no means been set on this method beforehand. The stage was divided into a number of ‘partitions’ – one the place prince and web page meet, for instance, one other for the Narrator. As in Une Journée particulaire (one other of Insula’s initiatives) there’s a gauze display in direction of the again of the stage onto which the pictures are projected; and, once more, the house behind the gauze is lit and characters seem there, too. Shadow play can be an fascinating and integral a part of the argument. All of this in impact provides a number of ranges of (un-)actuality, because the individuals can transfer between ‘ranges’ of fantasy, from principally interacting inside or across the orchestra, to interacting with the projections.

La Nuit des Rois (Might 2021) ©Julien Benhamou

The impact is spectacular – when the Narrator, the fantastically robust (but warm-toned) mezzo Rachel Frenkel, describes the hunt and chase in opposition to vibrant shifting photographs, heard on conjunction with the excellent Insula orchestra (horns resplendent) the impact is unforgettable. That’s however one instance: there’s probably the most exceptional magic citadel and, after all, that archetypal Romantic picture of the forest. Visible color is completely judged to really feel radiant however at a distance – a distance again into an historic time.

Costumes (Pétronille Salomé) have been completely judged for the fairy story state of affairs. The sense of immersion is essential, maybe on a deeper psychological stage for viewers’s expertise. Fairy tales supply a wealthy vein of psychological materials (the work of Marina Warner is especially essential on this subject, and naturally Karl Jung was greater than conscious of the efficiency of their imagery).

This staging, heard first in Might 2021, was Insula’s first expertise with Schumann (we have now since reported on a beautiful Schumann ‘Spring’ Symphony by Insula right here). The clear significance of interval devices is in all places obvious: Schumann’s scoring, so typically criticised, is impeccable., with Equilbey realising every micro-change of color, together with remarkably darkish areas (we actually aren’t removed from the world of Der Freischütz right here, and Schumann’s works don’t endure within the comparability). Fascinating to see the 2 pairs of horns (one pair crooked, one pair valved) in two rows and to listen to how Schumann’s merely huge harmonic palette involves life. Stabbing inside strings have been completely judged (and could be misplaced with a contemporary orchestra). What was extra exceptional nonetheless was how at one level a funeral march is required, and we transfer seamlessly to an insert of two lesser-known works by Beethoven (the ‘Trauermarsch’ from Leonore Prohaska, carried out with rock-steady rhythmic power in opposition to a projection of a magic mountain, and the ‘Geistlicher Marsch’ from King Stephen, Op.117, which acted because the music for a radiant dawn). The ambiance was uninterrupted – the story’s trajectory good. The outpourings of Schumann’s Des Sängers Fluch made their full mark; the ultimate choral Nachtlied, in opposition to projections of a darkening, crepuscular scene of mountains and water, the right finish, particularly given the right musical congruence between Insula and accentus.

The selection of soloists appeared supreme. Maybe the magnificently wealthy, deep bass of Rafał Pawnuk (because the King) stays firmly lodged within the reminiscence, however Adèle Clermont’s fantastically fresh-voiced Princess (wearing virginal white) was an absolute pleasure, and arguably the true star of the night. Good to have the 2 soprano voices properly differentiated, Camille Schnoor (because the Queen) considerably hotter. Tenor Ric Furman was a robust Web page, baritone Tommi Hakala a finely-focused Triton, whereas Frenkel’s nearly Erda-like narration in direction of the shut was extremely spectacular.

The sheer creativeness and experience of this mission is immense. On a technical stage, Anatole Levilain-Clément’s video is a masterpiece in and of itself, whereas Baudry’s general conception is extremely constant and constantly imaginative; and the entire is lit with true experience by Cécile Trelluyer.

The initiatives of Insula and Laurence Equilbey supply true musical highpoints of any season – lengthy could they proceed.

Colin Clarke



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