Tuesday 20 February 2024

La voix humaine: two different productions bring Poulenc's intimate drama to London

Poulenc: La voix humaine - Green Opera
For those seeking to bring opera to more intimate spaces, Poulenc's La voix humaine would seem ideal both in terms of length and performing forces. A single, female protagonist, a single setting and a length of around 45 minutes. In fact, it seems to cry out for that intimate space as Poulenc and Cocteau's protagonist gets remarkably confiding. 

But though it has developed quite a currency over the last decade or so, Poulenc was not fond on the version of the opera with piano accompaniment and for him, the piece needed a full orchestra. But opera companies have found that the sacrifice of Poulenc's orchestral colours is sometimes worth the gain in sheer immediacy and intimacy.

Remarkably, there are two different productions of Poulenc's La voix humaine coming up. In March, Green Opera is performing the work at the King's Head Theatre in Islington, the first time opera has been performed in the venue for ten years. In April, Pegasus Opera Company is presenting Poulenc's La voix humaine in a double bill with Philip Hagemann's Roman Fever at the Susie Sainsbury Theatre at the Royal Academy of Music.

Green Opera's critically-acclaimed production of Francis Poulenc's La Voix humaine returns for a strictly limited run, 14-16 March 2024 at the newly reconstructed purpose-built King's Head Theatre. New Zealand soprano Katherine McIndoe with Eleanor Burke as director and André Callegaro as music director, these latter two both Jette Parker Young Artists at the Royal Opera House.

Green Opera is the first and only environmentally-sustainable opera company; for every £10 donated or ticket purchased, Green Opera plants a tree with Eden Reforestation Projects. So far they have planted over 2,000 trees! The March performances are in support of the Maternal Mental Health Alliance to whom 25% of the box office proceeds will be donated.

Full details from the Kings Head Theatre website.

Pegasus Opera's double bill features an all-female led cast and creative team. Both operas are directed by Josette Bushell-Mingo and conducted by Rebecca Tong. For Poulenc's La voix humaine, the protagonist is Nadine Benjamin, whilst in Philip Hagemann's opera, the cast features Alison Buchanan, artistic director of Pegasus Opera, and Bernadine Pritchett. 

Philip Hagemann's Roman Fever is based on an Edith Wharton short story about two middle-aged women and their daughters on holiday in Rome. The work was premiered in Santa Fe in 1989 and this will be the work's UK premiere. The double bill runs from 12 to 14 April 2024.

Full details from TicketSource.

Pegasus Opera's Alison Buchanan, Bernadine Pritchett and Nadine Benjamin (Photo: Dominique Nok)
Pegasus Opera's Alison Buchanan, Bernadine Pritchett and Nadine Benjamin (Photo: Dominique Nok)

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