Toulon. Opera. 22-XI-2022. Adolphe Adam: If I were king, comic opera in three acts on a libretto by Adolphe d’Ennery and Jules-Henri Brazil. Directed by: Mark Adam. Sets: Roy Spahn. Costumes: Magali Gerberon. Lights: Hervé Gary. Video: Paulo Correia. With: Armelle Khourdoïan, soprano (Néméa); Eleonora Deveze, soprano (Zélide); Stefan Cifofelli, tenor (Zephoris); Jean-Kristof Bouton, baritone (Moussol); Nabil Suliman, baritone (Kadoor); Valentin Thill (Pifear); Mikhael Piccone, bass (Zizel); Frederic Jean (Atar); Jean-Francois Verdoux (Adigar); Didier Siccardi (the Doctor); Patrick Sabatier (the Voice). Choir (choir director: Christophe Bernollin) and Orchestra of the Toulon Opera, musical direction: Robert Tuohy
New success on the list of the Toulon Opera. if i was kingthe comic opera by Adophe Adam, enchants from start to finish in the highly accomplished production by Marc Adam.
Marc Adam directs Adolphe Adam. If the two artists are not related, they are nevertheless now linked by this exciting resurrection of if i was kingabsent from the stage since the 90s. A show where the first spoils the second by its bias: a finely offbeat reading of the letter of a work whose light and delicate music hits the mark. if i was king is one of the 78 opéras-comiques by a composer generally looked down on (thus Jacques Chailley: ” Adolphe Adam is the first French composer… in alphabetical order “), mainly known for the ballet Giselle, The Postilion of Longjumeauand certain Midnight ! Christians.
Are these three quasi-museum totems the inspiration to Marc Adam for the decor of his staging? We are in a museum whose surface technician fantasizes about a visitor herself fascinated by an immense navy (Ships at dusk on a calm sea by Willem van de Welde, 1865) which she tries to reproduce on the canvas of her easel. The man, quick to fall asleep, falls asleep at the foot of the painting, whose images then come to life thanks to Paulo Correia’s magical video. Magali Gerberon’s pastel costumes blend harmoniously into Roy Spahn’s beautiful decor, which immediately captures the eye and the senses with its huge frame with gilding inspired by those of the stage frame and the patterns lining the roof of the… ‘Opera of Toulon. ” Let’s go quietly, let’s go, let’s go… » : passing like a shadow under the words of this new Tamino, a tribute to The Magic Flute gives the signal for travel and a very coctalienne crossing of the mirror. On the way to Goa, counter of the Indies…
We follow with constant interest the adventures of a skilful booklet written by four hands (Messrs. Adolphe d’Ennery and Jules-Henri Brazil) which projects, for a day, its piquant topicality via the common sense of a man ordinary immersed in the extraordinary daily life of powerful people disconnected from reality. In the painting, our hero, projected into the skin of the fisherman Zephoris, will meet King Moussol, his felonious cousin Prince Kadoor, and especially the beautiful Princess Nemea whom he saved from drowning one day and whom he obviously fell in love. Respectful but never academic, Marc Adam could have been satisfied with this setting set once and for all, as Dominique Pitoiset had done in Dijon in his long Così all fans. On the contrary, he decides to also make his spectator travel in the sophistication of a scenography that is also traveling, particularly tuned to the comings and goings of his hero between dream and reality, between two worlds, between today and yesterday. In Act II, not content with blowing up the fourth wall by turning the frame of the painting upside down, he prolongs the perspective to the point of vertigo (but which side are we on?) by making two other scenes appear by means of two new frames at the feet of which the crimson bench which usually allows one to sit down to admire a painting also serves as an inverted passage from one space to another: an effect of an aesthetic taking power, even if, notwithstanding an inventive direction of actors, a somewhat vague management of the groups prevents it from equaling the readability of the Rosenkavalier by Damiano Michieletto. The conclusion, also nicely set off from the happy ending of a work that has everything to please, is no less remarkable: the return of our king for a day to the reality of the museum, like the young girl who reproduced on his easel the canvas inviting to travel. But… aren’t the features of the latter those of Néméa?
Spoken dialogues, arias, duets, trios, ensembles (the as beautiful as too brief Come, holy brahmins) give each and everyone the opportunity to assert a personality. As for the fishermen, the bubbly Zélide, sister of the hero, is blessed, in Act III, with a charming aria that allows Eleonora Deveze to reveal the delicate treble of her fruity soprano. His lover Piféar, entrusted to Valentin Thill, also finds many opportunities to shine his warm tone after a few sharp deviations will have picked him up cold. Zizel’s greed is captured well by Mikhael Piccone. On the powerful side, the ball is led by the solid Kadoor of Nabil Suliman, by the excellent projection and presence of King Moussol of Jean-Kristof Bouton. We gradually taste the lack of appetite for the histrionism of the restrained tenor of Stefan Cifofelli in Zephoris. From mezzo to coloratura, the effortless ambition of Armelle Khourdoïan’s Néméa arouses full enthusiasm. Comprimari and house choir are particularly invested. Musical pleasure and scenic pleasure are therefore total, especially since Robert Tuohy conducts with lightness and going the entire score that the disc has so far considerably amputated.
A Timpani recording had celebrated the concert version that in 2018, the Toulon Opera had given of another comic opera by Adam: The cottage. Why not prolong with a recording the musical and scenic event that constitutes, against all odds, this new production of if i was kingwork of yesterday which will have captivated the youth of tomorrow, very present in this evening of third and already last…
Photo credits: © Jean-Michel Elophe
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