My review of Radius performing Tim Benjamin’s Le gateau d’anniversaire and Poulenc’s La voix humaine is now online at Musical Criticism.
I’m ashamed to admit that I didn’t know Poulenc’s La voix humaine before this evening, but Rebecca Lea‘s quite stunning performance has made me desperate to see it again as soon as possible.Jean Cocteau’s play, pegged to a 1930s experience of unreliable technology but scored by Poulenc in the technophilic 1950s speaks strongly to the once more techno-sceptic 21st century, a time when technology has never been a greater proxy for personal intimacy and the human voice a more uncertainly valued commodity. In it a woman, clearly frantic, unwell and possibly disturbed, conducts a conversation with her lover – a man who appears to be lying to her, and from whom she will soon break up. The brilliant dramatic hook is that the conversation is conducted by phone: we only see and hear the woman’s side of things. She, by turns, is simpering, kittenish, enraged, desperate and pleading. It’s an exhaustingly rich role, portrayed by Lea brilliantly and without let-up.
The same concert has also been reviewed by Simon Cummings:
The success or failure of La Voix Humaine rests almost entirely on the shoulders of the solo soprano, & Rebecca Lea (who also directed both operas) gave what i can only describe as one of the finest performances i’ve ever witnessed on stage • Hers was no mere act; she had fully become the character of Elle, & i found myself completely drawn into her claustrophobic world • It’s a horrid place, one where hope is all but gone, Elle desperately keen to keep the conversation going as long as possible, hanging on the man’s every word, panicking at the slightest hint that he may find something she says remotely disagreeable •