See L'heure espagnole - Sophie.
See Ravel L Heure Espagnole.
See Jennifer Larmore. L' heure.
See Maurice Ravel - L'Heure Es.
See Maurice Ravel: "L'heu.
See L'Heure Espagnole: Introdu.
See Ravel - "L'heure Espa.
See Ravel: L'heure espagnole, .
See M. Ravel L'heure espagnole.
See L'Heure Espagnole: Scene 4.
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The title, L'Heure Espagnole, is hard to translate. It can mean The Spanish Hour or Spanish Time. Ravel was a jazz fanatic so I hope he would have approved of my title. Ravel's sound-world is well-suited to ballet and to orchestral pieces but is more problematical when it comes to opera. In this, one of Ravel's two, brief forays into the form, the vocal line seems to sit uneasily on the impressionistic orchestral accompaniment.Ravel is not well-served by his libretto. In 1911 Paris it may have seemed the height of daring and chic but today it appears to be just a sordid, sexist farce that seems as dated as a Benny Hill sketch. The plot concerns a randy wife, Concepcion, who has just one hour a week to liaise with her lovers on the afternoon that her clockmaker husband has to wind all the city clocks. Failing to receive satisfaction with two potential suitors she finally settles for a muscular deliveryman who happens to be in the vicinity.The storyline may be after Boccaccio but that does not create it any more attractive.Sophie Koch does her greatest with the unsympathetic role of the nympho wife, None of her three lovers can create much of their cardboard cutout parts. I did play Jean-Paul Fouchécourt as the cuckolded clockmaker, Torquemada, he has a striking tenor voice. Sorry about that. Torquemada is rather obsessional about his clocks so it distressed me to see all the clocks on the scene showing a various time. Surely he would have set them correctly.The piece does not even work well on its own terms since it has none of the motivational imperative of a nice farce. Boys hold on hiding in grandfather clocks but for no apparent reason, just because they are there. Still, all is not lost if you have purchased this DVD since it comes in a double bill with an perfect ver of Puccini's Gianni Schicchi.
L'Heure Espagnole is not one of my favorite operas and I don't think it ever will be. The melody has its moments, and it certainly has Ravel's style all over it, but I've never found the score particularly memorable on the whole. The storyline while short everytime did feel rather static and I am not entirely sure whether it holds up well by today's standards. And the characters are rather cardboard for my tastes, that is particularly real with Gonzalve. But even if I am not a fanatic of the opera, I'd still see a production as I do love opera general regardless of the production or what my perception of the opera is. And I wouldn't go as far to tell that this 2004 Paris production is bad, it isn't. It's just that it doesn't do very much on the entire to change my perception of the opera. The staging does what it can to create the storyline interesting but it comes across as too busy and at times confusing. The settings seemed rather cluttered with different objects and seemed very stark in colour, very tiny authenticity here. Yann Beuron has a lovely voice but although his hero Gonzalve is not very interesting to start with he is very bland on the whole. The rest of the cast fare best. Of the male singers, the greatest is Jean-Paul Fouchecourt, I do like the ring to his voice and he at least brings some energy to Torquemada. Allain Vernhes has a very sonorous basso as well as a very communicative face. Frank Ferrari has an appealing cheeky charm to him also, but the greatest of the cast is the vocally thrilling and dramatically riveting Concepcion of Sophie Koch. Another pluses here are the pleasantly summery costumes, especially Koch's, the beautifully balanced orchestral testing and authoritative conducting from Seiiji Ozawa. Of the Paris productions I've seen overall, which is a fair few, this L'Heure Espagnole has some of the greatest video directing, picture and sound quality. Overall, don't care all that much for the opera and was not fully enamoured with the production, but it does have some undeniably nice things so it shouldn't be dismissed entirely. 6/10 Bethany Cox
New York, NY 10013
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