Sabine Devieilhe’s smile and tears

It would certainly be derogating from the good rules of the performance report to devote the entirety to the wonderful incarnation of Lakmé by the soprano Sabine Devieilhe. The temptation is great, however, to fill the page with adjectives, each one more favorable than the other, on the treasures distilled by his crystalline voice, the tenderness of each of his inflections, the unadorned elegance of his diction, the supreme refinement of his musicality.

If the young woman is more agile than a nightingale in the perilous vocalizations of the air called “bells”, a piece of bravery from the work created by Léo Delibes in 1883 in this same Parisian Opéra-Comique, the artist bewitches and moves even more by the intelligence and sensitivity with which she inhabits her character as a quasi-goddess suddenly overwhelmed by an irresistible earthly love.

Exoticism and romanticism

At his side, the entire vocal set is of high quality, including backing vocals. Touching and delicate, tenor Frédéric Antoun brings poetry to the role of Gérald, an English officer fascinated by the inaccessible young Hindu, his timbre blending very gracefully with that of his partner.

However, we are alarmed by some vocal fatigue, which is certainly not the case for Stéphane Degout, a vengeful Brahmin with impressive metal who aspires to do battle with the British invader. To his thundering imprecations, we prefer the suppleness of his great aria “Lakmé, your sweet look is veiled”, sung with perfect nobility.

Simple and readable, Laurent Pelly’s staging would have benefited from deploying more imagination (his recent Dream of a summer night from Britten to Lille proves how much he can do). The colors, the diversity of landscapes and climates then emanate much more from the pit, Raphaël Pichon and his Pygmalion orchestra honoring with the same eloquence the sensual “exotic” atmospheres and the romantic impulses when love blossoms. “in the vagueness of a dream”…

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