Between Rimbaud’s “Illuminations” and “Stabat Mater”, Jodie Devos triumphs at the Saint-Denis Festival

Between Rimbaud’s “Illuminations” and “Stabat Mater”, Jodie Devos triumphs at the Saint-Denis Festival

It’s good to sit in the warmth of the basilica of Saint-Denis (Seine-Saint-Denis) while the day is still high, to find the clock at the foot of the organ immutably stuck on 9:20 a.m. , or rather 9:20 p.m., on June 23, which welcomes the National Orchestra of Lille, under the direction of its conductor, Alexandre Bloch, as part of the 54e edition of the Saint-Denis Festival. The Belgian soprano Sophie Karthauser withdrew a few days earlier, replaced by Jodie Devos in the sublimes Illuminations which Britten composed in 1939 on some of the poems of Arthur Rimbaud, with which he was infatuated.

The history of the interpretation put the tenor voice in our ears. But the score, written for ” high-pitched voice “ and string orchestra, was premiered in London in January 1940 by soprano Sophie Wyss. After the serious tremor of the basses, then the open-air fanfare calls between violas and violins, we understand from the onset of the first phrase – “I alone have the key to this wild parade” – that Jodie Devos is capable of carrying the extremes that agitate Rimbaud’s vision. Clarity of timbre, quivering musicality, rage and biting, the young woman plays with the form of sadism that animates this music by turns caressing and punitive, handling, like Rimbaud, insult and ecstasy.

Witness the relentless ride of Cities, beauty on the wire Phrasing or end ofInterlude, the dancing lyricism ofAntique, the fiery vocalizations of Marine or of Parade. Being Beauteous unfolds its poisonous charms, before Departure, whose farewell to the world will bring tears to your eyes, while the music melts into the bass, like the silhouette of the poet who died in Harar (Ethiopia).

Impressive board

The second part of the program will call for an impressive line-up: the Stabat Mater, by Poulenc, calls for a full symphony orchestra and a no less substantial choir. It is preceded by an a cappella piece, Timor and tremor, first of Four motets for a time of penance (1938-1939), by Poulenc, whose choir of the Orchester de Paris, masterfully prepared by Marc Korovitch and Ingrid Roose, will make short work of it.

At the pulpit, the flamboyant Alexandre Bloch conducts a teeming orchestra with passionate expressiveness and luminous precision.

Jodie Devos placed herself within the choral mass as the beating heart of the Marian liturgical sequence opens. This flagship work by Poulenc was born in 1950, following a bereavement, the loss of his friend Christian Bérard (1902-1949), painter and theater designer, to whom the composer wanted to dedicate not a requiem, considered too pompous. , but a “intercessional prayer”in order to “entrust to Our Lady of Rocamadour [sanctuaire dans lequel Poulenc avait retrouvé la foi en 1936, dans le Lot] the soul of dear Bérard”as he would reveal during interviews with the musicologist Claude Rostand, in 1953.

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