Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Pauline Courtin: Google Search

Remember this name, Pauline Courtin, soprano.

Monday night, she and her colleagues from CNIPAL, performed an evening of opera selections for an appreciative audience at the Crowne Plaza, Dubai.

Ms. Courtin has a wonderfully rich and mellow voice, an incredibly expressive face, and an intuition for movement and how to hold herself. Several selections showed off her voice's ability to do gymnastics without a trace of strain - on her or her audience.

It is hard to pick out the highlight of the evening. It was perhaps the duet of Ms. Courtin and Juliette Marrs (mezzo) performing "Belle nuit" from Jacques Offenbach's Les Contes d'Hoffman. As was proved throughout the evening, as strong a figure as Ms. Courtin is she was completed by the talented support from Ms. Marrs, Jean-Luc Ballestra, baritone, and accompaniest and musical coach Nelly Fourcade.


I have to pinch myself sometimes to make sure this thing we call Dubai is real. Who are we that we get treated to music like this? Free.

CORRECTION: The highlight of the evening I had in mind was probably a substitution not printed in the program: "Flower Duet" from Lakme by Delibes. (Thanks to Blake of Sharjah for tracking it down.)

Lakmé is an Oriental tale that includes mysticism, romance and deceit in the Far East. Delibes was under the influence of the Romantic poets of his time when choosing this opera. For these poets, the Far East was a romantic adventure, filled with mystery. It is mainly because of this theme that his opera was popular. The libretto is an improbable tale of love between a British officer and daughter of an Indian religious priest. Two of the most famous pieces in the opera are the Flower Duet, and the Bell Song, where the daughter sings, almost possessed, of a legend surrounding a bell in the woods. Delibes had a special talent for text painting and use of vocal coloring in his arias. In the Bell Song, the daughter of the priest uses her voice in imitation of a bell, creating sounds that mock the story and using the voice as an instrument, or an extension of the orchestra.


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