Dukas: Ariane et Barbe-Bleue

Dukas: Ariane et Barbe-Bleue

by Leon Botstein
     
 

Maurice Maeterlinck wrote his libretto for "Ariane et Barbe-Bleu" for Grieg, who rejected it, but Paul Dukas was delighted when it was offered to him. Completed in 1907, Dukas' opera appeared five years after Debussy's "Pelléas," which it resembles in some of its text setting and in its sense of mystery. (MélisandeSee more details below

Overview

Maurice Maeterlinck wrote his libretto for "Ariane et Barbe-Bleu" for Grieg, who rejected it, but Paul Dukas was delighted when it was offered to him. Completed in 1907, Dukas' opera appeared five years after Debussy's "Pelléas," which it resembles in some of its text setting and in its sense of mystery. (Mélisande appears in the Dukas as one of Bluebeard's wives, but it's impossible to know if Maeterlinck had her back story in mind when he wrote the 1892 play on which Debussy based his opera. Dukas directly quotes Debussy's opera in connection with his character of Mélisande.) Like Debussy's opera, Dukas' is mysterious and psychologically troubling; after Ariane succeeds in freeing Bluebeard's five previous wives (a sixth wife -- "the black fairy" is ominously unaccounted for), the wives choose to remain in captivity in Bluebeard's dank prison. The music of Dukas' opera is more overtly dramatic than Debussy's and has a Wagnerian grandeur filtered through the delicacy of a thoroughly French sensibility. Its ripe romanticism is well suited to the libretto's gothic sensibilities. "Ariane et Barbe-Bleu" has everything to make it a popular success -- a dramatic and emotionally engaging story that offers the opportunity for scenically spectacular stagings, grateful vocal writing, and a sumptuous score. Critics speculate that its obscurity may be related to the timing of its appearance, just after "Pelléas," and just before Bartók's "Duke Bluebeard's Castle," which was based loosely on the same libretto; there were just too many Maeterlinckian symbolist operas for the repertoire to absorb in such a short time. The opera receives a compelling and colorful performance by the BBC Symphony Orchestra and the BBC Singers, led by Leon Botstein. Almost the entire vocal responsibility falls on Ariane, sung passionately with warm tone by Lori Phillips. The remaining characters, the Nurse, the wives, and Bluebeard himself, have incidental roles, but all are well taken and beautifully sung. Telarc's sound is warm and spacious.

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Editorial Reviews

Gramophone - Patrick O'Connor
An instructive and rewarding experience.
BBC Music Magazine - Christopher Dingle
Dukas's supreme masterpiece and one of the great early 20th-century operas.... It is a captivating drama and the music is spellbinding. Three cheers, then for this wonderful new recording.
Daily Telegraph - Matthew Rye
The revelation of the various jewels in Act 1 is suitably dazzling and comes across with particular vibrancy on this new recording.... The recording itself makes the most of Dukas's often voluptuous music, and in the performance's strength of purpose Leon Botstein once again puts us in his debt for his advocacy of forgotten late-Romantic scores.

Product Details

Release Date:
07/24/2007
Label:
Telarc
UPC:
0089408068027
catalogNumber:
80680
Rank:
171936

Related Subjects

Tracks

  1. Ariane et Barbe-Bleue, opera  - Paul Dukas  -  BBC Symphony Orchestra  -  BBC Singers  - Patricia Bardon  - Leon Botstein  - Anilda Carrasquillo  - Graeme Danby  - Maurice Maeterlinck  -  Robert Woods  - Lori Phillips  - Stephen Betteridge  - Sarah-Jane Davies  - Elizabeth Hurley  - Ana James  - Laura Vlasak Nolen  - Daphne Touchais  - Peter Rose

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