The UMKC Conservatory of Music and Dance is thrilled to present an intimate and captivating evening of French opera with a double-bill featuring Francis Poulenc’s brooding La voix humaine (The Human Voice) and Maurice Ravel’s lyric fantasy L’enfant et les sortilèges (The Child and the Spells). Each opera portrays a very singular voice facing trying times; one of a lover’s regret and the other a child’s rage. Fenlon Lamb directs and Robert Bode conducts this production of deep emotion and flights of fancy in a continuing exploration of the paper medium with set designer Jeff Ridenour, costume designer Maureen Thomas and projections designer Kris Kirkwood.
Director Fenlon Lamb states that “Both of these one-act operas offer a truly singular experience and a look inside the minds and hearts of two vastly different characters. Both voices express deep human emotions stemming from their need to be loved and understood; exploring themes of connection and one’s place in the world.”
Poulenc’s La voix humaine, composed in 1958, was written for a single soprano performer with orchestra. The libretto consists of a woman’s last phone conversation with her lover, who has left her for another. As the conversation progresses, the ex-lovers discuss their past as the woman takes the blame for many of their problems. Further into the phone call, she tells him of her attempted suicide the night before, and how the phone is the only thing connecting them now. She knows that the phone will never fill her longing for him; that it will only be a constant reminder of their failed connection. This dark, one-act opera is based on the 1928 play by the same name, written by Jean Cocteau, who worked closely with Poulenc while he was composing the opera.
Maurice Ravel’s second opera, L’enfant et les sortilèges, was written between 1917 and 1925 and is based on a libretto by Nobel-prize winning novelist Colette. Unlike the Poulenc, this one-act opera has numerous roles, with many being performed by the same singer as specified in the score. This story is of a rude child, who throws a tantrum destroying the room around him. Those unhappy items later come to life, as his bedroom transforms into a garden full of tortured animals and plants who shun his attempts to make friends with him because of past injuries he has caused. It isn’t until an act of kindness from the child that the animals have a change of heart, and ultimately help him find his way home to his mother.
Tickets: $12 general public; UMKC faculty, staff, and all students FREE with UMKC or student ID. For tickets, visit our box office located in the James C. Olson Performing Arts Center, call 816-235-6222, or visit us online at www.umkc.edu/cto.