ALBUM TITLE: Dusapin
WORKS: Perela, uomo di fumo
PERFORMER: John Graham Hall, Isabelle Philippe, Chantal Perraud, Montpellier National Opera Chorus, Montpellier National Orchestra, Alain Altinoglu
CATALOGUE NO: MO 782168
This opera about the ‘man of smoke’ marks a new departure for Pascal Dusapin, one of today’s foremost opera composers. Unlike its three predecessors, which focused upon the conceptual challenges of the operatic genre, Perelà has a linear narrative and clear-cut dramatic characters. Perelà is the naive innocent, a man made from smoke and cast into the flesh and blood world of bourgeois society. At first fêted, then pilloried and condemned, Perelà undergoes a quasi-passion, with only shapes seen in the clouds as a hint of resurrection.
The title role’s high tenor is superbly sung by John Graham-Hall, and there are over a dozen characters, from the queen to a parrot, drawing upon almost as many vocal types. Large orchestra and chorus support them, including wind band and organ on-stage, with electronic tape linking the scenes. Though much is lost without the visual spectacle, and the live recording does not capture every nuance of Dusapin’s rich score, this is a striking account of a significant work. Christopher Dingle