Instant Lyrique with Anne-Catherine Gillet - Paris (Éléphant Paname)

18/02/2019 - Forum Opéra - Christophe Rizoud

If live performance survives in spite of all the economic indicators, it is because, unlike any other genre – including cinema – it offers a part of the unexpected needed to experience a thrill. Take the Instant Lyrique with Anne-Catherine Gillet, a delightful soprano that Paris applauded last year in Le Domino Noir and Liège did a few weeks ago in Gounod’s Faust.

Couple her with a partner relatively unknown up to now as having only recently left the conservatoire: Victoire Bunel, a mezzo-soprano who graduated from the CNSM de Paris in June 2018 with distinction, unanimously awarded by the jury. Prepare a programme exactly adapted to both voices, between opera and operetta, taken mainly from the French repertoire, at the confluence of the 19thand 20thcenturies. Thus the wheels set in motion, the evening seems ready to hit the road! From “Blanche-Marie et Marie-Blanche”, the twins in Les P’tites Michu, the duet runs at top speed. The timbres answer each other without blending. The bond is so obvious that both performers seem, like Messager’s heroines, to have shared the same bath from their earliest age. Antoine Palloc on the piano is, as ever, the ideal accompanist, attentive while at the same time inspired enough to suggest, in Massenet’s Cinderella, what the orchestra is telling: the first stirrings of love, the twelve strokes of midnight, the pompous parade of the courtiers…

And then, bang, after this enchanting duet, the pianist who was unwell, throws down the gauntlet. Urgently called to the rescue, Qiaochu Li rushes into the arena. And so the evening continues, balanced on a tightrope, facing an audience captivated by the hire-wire act that the three performers are engaged in, their eyes riveted on each other. Although the pianist takes control of the music with no delay or major mistakes, the impression of danger whips the emotions. Worried, the jewellery scene takes on new depth. If Anne-Catherine Gillet’s middle range has acquired enough depth to set out to conquer more lyrical roles, the freshness of the voice remains undamaged and the high notes intact. Far from the Castafiore-like excesses, Gounod’s Faust is returned to its original opera-comique simplicity. Hergé, listening to this delicately blooming Marguerite would surely have had a change of heart. Music of the Belle Époque and beyond flows like a joyful stream through this colourful singing like an old postcard. Madame Chrysanthème, Pas sur ta bouche: an undistorted naturalness, no slips… we would like any directors present in the room to take away ideas from this for their future programmes. The repertoire needs it.

Surprisingly serene taking into account her youthfulness, Victoire Bunel follows on in the same footsteps. A mezzo-soprano, clear and with careful diction, she is Prince Charming to a Cinderella both returned to their true vocal identity (but where does this absurd idea come from to give the role to a tenor)? “J’ai deux amants” (I have two lovers), with the hilarious “Vous n’êtes pas venu dimanche” (You didn’t come on Sunday) as an encore, sung by Elyane Célis in the interwar period is, as always, the winning number. We appreciate that it was offered here without any overdone winks or suggestive intonations: light and gracious, just like the generous image of these artists whose emotion is contagious.

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