Ravel: L'enfant et les sortilèges; L'heure espagnole
It’s a funny business, filming live opera. On the one hand, there is an obligation to present a view of the entire stage. On the other, the challenge of mimicking the random glances made by those in the audience. Director François Roussillon takes these duties seriously in his film of Laurent Pelly’s Glyndebourne double-bill of L’heure espagnole and L’enfant et les sortileges; pulling back to survey the oppressive clutter of automata, household appliances and laundry in Ravel’s 1911 comedy of sexual frustration, and the depthless inky sky of the 1925 nursery dreamworld he created with the author Colette. A largely Francophone cast sings idiomatically and elegantly under Kazushi Ono, whose balancing of both the lushest and most austere passages in Ravel’s instrumentation is flawless, the London Philharmonic Orchestra sounding engaged and relaxed in both works.
Designed by Caroline Ginet, Pelly’s L’heure is surprisingly coarse and unsympathetic, all grins and gurns and whiplash glares from Stéphanie d’Oustrac’s slinky Concepcion, prim Torquemada (François Piolino), vain Gonsalve (Alek Shrader), pompous Don Inigo (Paul Gay) and the dumb ‘beau gosse’ Ramiro (Elliot Madore). Designed by Barbara de Limburg, L’enfant is fluid and magical, its split-second encounters between Khatouna Gadelia’s stroppy Child and the madcap parade of vengeful creatures and animated objects deftly choreographed. D’Oustrac reappears as a vampish cat, Madore a dysfunctional clock, Gay the wounded tree, Piolino the Dadaist Teapot and frantic Arithmetic, with Kathleen Kim as the Princess, Fire and Nightingale. Best moment? Gadelia’s insouciant, pitch-perfect shaping of the last two syllables of the opera: ‘Maman!’