François-Xavier Roth, Les Siècles, Vannina Santoni, Julien Behr, Alexandre Duhamel, Marie-Ange Todorovitch, Jean Teitgen, Chœur de l’Opéra de Lille – Debussy: Pelléas et Mélisande (2022) [FLAC 24bit/96kHz]

François-Xavier Roth, Les Siècles, Vannina Santoni, Julien Behr, Alexandre Duhamel, Marie-Ange Todorovitch, Jean Teitgen, Chœur de l’Opéra de Lille – Debussy: Pelléas et Mélisande (2022)
FLAC (tracks) 24 bit/96 kHz | Time – 02:37:54 minutes | 2,59 GB | Genre: Classical
Studio Masters, Official Digital Download | Front Cover | © harmonia mundi

Chief conductor of Les Siècles symphony orchestra, François-Xavier Roth has been revisiting French music from the beginning of the 20th century for several years now, taking care to honour both the original instruments and to find melodies that favour even greater clarity of timbre and attack. After his incredible recordings of Debussy, Ravel and Stravinsky’s first work (special mention to the superb complete version of L’Oiseau de feu), everyone naturally expected the conductor to perform Pelléas et Mélisande, the opera he conducted at the very beginning of his career which is particularly close to his heart.

This new version of Debussy’s masterpiece was recorded on the 20th and 21st of March 2021 at the Opéra de Lille. As one might expect, the orchestra, which is present throughout the score (it conveys emotion and feeling in the style of Wagner and Mussorgsky) is given pride of place by François-Xavier Roth, who transforms this strange opera into some sort of secular oratorio.

As for the singers, it’s a real treat to hear French voices in the two main roles. Vannina Santoni’s portrayal of Mélisande is refreshing, and she makes the character less naïve than previous interpretations have done. She asserts herself in the forest scene at the beginning of the piece and later, in the final scene, she confidently declares to Pelléas “I only lie to your brother!”. Pelléas is personified by a tenor voice and not by a light baritone as intended by Debussy (in fact, he sounds much like Eric Tappy in Armin Jordan’s beautiful version of Erato). Thanks to Julien Behr’s stellar performance, the character comes across as fragile and overwhelmed by his ill-fated destiny. Alexandre Duhamel’s touching portrayal of Golaud reveals a gritty character who is undeniably relatable, despite being consumed by an ardent jealousy that ultimately causes him to murder his younger brother and, indirectly, Mélisande. Jean Teitgen is a less dogmatic Arkel than usual. Literally and figuratively blind, it’s as though he has no understanding of what’s happening within the castle and is unable to escape the confines of his own, outdated idealism. Marie-Ange Todorovitch does a good job playing the difficult and often overlooked role of Geneviève, whose appearances, though infrequent, are pivotal.

Finally, it should be noted that François-Xavier Roth uses the definitive and complete version of the opera, which includes the few bars that fell victim to censorship in 1902. As such, viewers can rediscover the confronting dialogue between Golaud and his son Yniold, whom he uses to spy on Mélisande when she’s in her bedroom.

“What about the bed? Are they close to the bed?” asks Golaud in the height of his jealousy.

Thanks to its poetic dimension and fantastic cast, this new version easily rivals those by Désormière, Inghelbrecht, Ansermet, Armin Jordan, Karajan and Abbado. – François Hudry

01. Les Siècles – Je ne pourrai plus sortir de cette forêt (Golaud) (03:39)
02. Les Siècles – Pourquoi pleures-tu ? (Golaud, Mélisande) (06:24)
03. Les Siècles – Interlude I (03:22)
04. Les Siècles – Voici ce qu’il écrit à son frère Pelléas (Geneviève) (02:59)
05. Les Siècles – Qu’en dites-vous ? (Geneviève, Arkel, Pelléas) (05:51)
06. Les Siècles – Interlude II (02:01)
07. Les Siècles – Il fait sombre dans les jardins (Mélisande, Geneviève, Pelléas) (02:44)
08. Les Siècles – Ohé ! Hisse, ohé ! (chœur, Mélisande, Pelléas, Geneviève) (04:04)
09. Les Siècles – Interlude III (00:46)
10. Les Siècles – Vous ne savez pas où je vous ai menée ? (Pelléas, Mélisande) (02:57)
11. Les Siècles – C’est au bord d’une fontaine aussi qu’il vous a trouvée ? (Pelléas, Mélisande) (03:05)
12. Les Siècles – Interlude IV (02:57)
13. Les Siècles – Ah ! Ah ! Tout va bien, cela ne sera rien (Golaud, Mélisande) (05:34)
14. Les Siècles – Ne peux-tu pas te faire à la vie qu’on mène ici ? (Golaud, Mélisande) (05:19)
15. Les Siècles – Interlude V (02:33)
16. Les Siècles – Oui, c’est ici, nous y sommes (Pelléas, Mélisande) (05:09)
17. Les Siècles – Mes longs cheveux descendent jusqu’au seuil de la tour! (Pelléas, Mélisande) (05:59)
18. Les Siècles – Oh! Oh! Qu’est-ce que c’est? (Pelléas, Mélisande) (04:27)
19. Les Siècles – Laisse-moi! Laisse-moi relever la tête… (Mélisande, Pelléas, Golaud) (03:52)
20. Les Siècles – Prenez garde! Par ici, par ici (Golaud, Pelléas) (03:47)
21. Les Siècles – Ah! Je respire enfin! (Pelléas, Golaud) (04:35)
22. Les Siècles – Viens, nous allons nous asseoir ici, Yniold (Golaud, Yniold) (07:00)
23. Les Siècles – Non, non, mon enfant (Golaud, Yniold) (03:29)
24. Les Siècles – Où vas-tu? Il faut que je te parle ce soir (Pelléas, Mélisande) (02:58)
25. Les Siècles – Maintenant que le père de Pelléas est sauvé (Arkel, Mélisande) (05:52)
26. Les Siècles – Pelléas part ce soir (Golaud, Arkel, Mélisande) (06:56)
27. Les Siècles – Interlude VI (03:35)
28. Les Siècles – Oh! Cette pierre est lourde… (Yniold, Un Berger) (04:04)
29. Les Siècles – C’est le dernier soir, le dernier soir… (Pelléas) (01:57)
30. Les Siècles – Pelléas… (Mélisande, Pelléas) (04:15)
31. Les Siècles – On dirait que ta voix a passé sur la mer au printemps… (Pelléas, Mélisande) (04:13)
32. Les Siècles – Quel est ce bruit? (Pelléas, Mélisande) (04:25)
33. Les Siècles – Ce n’est pas de cette petite blessure qu’elle peut mourir (Le Médecin, Arkel, Golaud) (03:34)
34. Les Siècles – Ouvrez la fenêtre, ouvrez la fenêtre… (Mélisande, Arkel, Le Médecin, Golaud) (06:01)
35. Les Siècles – Mélisande, as-tu pitié de moi? (Golaud, Mélisande) (04:12)
36. Les Siècles – La vérité… La vérité… (Mélisande, Golaud, Arkel) (04:16)
37. Les Siècles – Qu’y a-t-il? (Golaud, Le Médecin, Arkel) (02:10)
38. Les Siècles – Vous ne savez pas ce que c’est que l’âme… (Golaud, Arkel, Le Médecin) (06:34)