Debussy: Pelleas Et Melisande / Dessay, De Billy
Label: Erato Disques
Natalie Dessay, Stéphane Degout, Laurent Naouri, Philip Ens, Marie-Nicole Lemieux, Tim Mirfin, Beate Ritter Radio-SymphonieOrchester Wien, Arnold Schoenberg Chor Bertrand De Billy, direction Laurent Pelly
Debussy: Pelléas et Mélisande
“There’s more to life than top notes,” Natalie Dessay has said. She has, of course, made her reputation with the florid, stratospheric heroines of Romantic French and Italian opera, but in this new DVD from Vienna she portrays a heroine who presents few opportunities for vocal display, but many for subtle characterisation – Debussy’s Mélisande. Dessay had sung the role just once before, in concert in Edinburgh in 2005. Pelléas et Mélisande is full of ambiguity and its vocal lines closely reflect Maurice Maeterlink’s often enigmatic text. A few unaccompanied, ballad-like phrases are the closest Mélisande gets to an aria. For this production, premiered in January 2009 at the Theater an der Wien, Dessay’s French and French-Canadian colleagues included stage director Laurent Pelly -- celebrated for riotous comedy (notably La fille de regiment with Dessay, also a Virgin Classics DVD – and his preferred designer, Chantal Thomas; Dessay’s real-life husband, bass-baritone Laurent Naouri as her jealous stage husband, Golaud; the lyric baritone Stéphane Degout as her Pelléas, and the contralto Marie-Nicole Lemieux as his and Golaud’s mother, Geneviève. The high-calibre Gallic line-up was completed by conductor Bertrand de Billy.