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Poulenc: La Voix Humaine

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Product details

  • Orchestra: Orchestre National de France
  • Composer: Francis Poulenc
  • Audio CD (26 Jan. 2004)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Erato
  • ASIN: B00013UTCK
  • Other Editions: MP3 Download
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 442,465 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Song Title Time Price
  1. Poulenc : La voix humaine : Introduction16:47Album Only
  2. Poulenc : La voix humaine : "Allo... Ah! Chéri, c'est toi? On avait coupé"13:50Album Only
  3. Poulenc : La voix humaine : "Voilà deux jours qu'il ne quitte pas l'antichambre"14:24Album Only

Product Description

Jean Cocteau’s La Voix humaine was first performed in 1932 by Berthe Bovy at the Comédie-Française. The one-act play is a long monologue by a woman whose lover has left her and whom she telephones for the last time for three-quarters of an hour. The play is a dramatic tour de force and the task of setting it to music would seem impossible. It was made all the more difficult by the fact that Poulenc and Cocteau had been friends for 40 years. It was Hervé Dugardin, director of Ricordi Paris, who suggested using La Voix humaine as the basis for an opera. Poulenc described himself as ‘A man of song in all its forms’ and became committed to putting the long telephone monologue into verse. He was so successful that Cocteau told him he had created the definitive way of delivering his text. Poulenc’s other challenge was finding a role for the orchestra that would ensure dramatic continuity without losing the clarity of the work. His solution was to use a limited orchestra which opens the act with the ring of the telephone played by the xylophone and goes on to reflect the succession of emotions in the long monologue.
La Voix humaine was first played at the Piccola Scala, Milan, then in New York and Edinburgh. The French premiere was in 1959 with Denise Duval, Georges Prêtre leading the orchestra of the Opéra-Comique and with a set and production by Jean Cocteau. The success of the work both among critics and among the public has never waned.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

By huw on 28 Aug. 2014
Format: MP3 Download Verified Purchase
This is a setting by Poulenc of Jean Cocteau's narration for single actor of the same name. Cocteau so liked Poulenc's musical setting that he thought that it was the definitive way to hear his words. I can recommend this recording. The conducting of Pretre and the playing of the orchestre national de France are exemplary as is the "singing" (a mixture spoken, half singing and singing) of Johnson. This is obviously a piece of French repertoire that French performers are more familiar with than non-French. The piece itself is a mini opera for one singer and is unique. Give it a try!
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