Today's Classical Music Video

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

The Making of Vlaamse Opera's production of L'amour de loin

The Canadian Opera Company is pairing the Puccini warhorse, Tosca, with Finnish composer Kaija Saariaho's L'amour de loin (or Love From Afar), which opens on Feb. 2. Saariaho is one of a handful of contemporary composers whose works get regularly performed.  L'amour premiered in Salzburg in 2000, and has since received stagings at Paris, Santa Fe, Bern, Helsinki, London, Antwerp and now Toronto. Based on a text by French-Lebanese writer Amin Maalouf, L'amour is set in the 12th century and tells the story of a young troubadour Jaufre Rudel's love for an idealized, as yet unseen woman, Clemence, who lives in a distant land.  He decides to travel to meet his "love from afar,"  only to take ill during his long journey. He dies in her arms.The best known production is the one at the Salzburg/Paris/Santa Fe Operas, available on DVD. I saw it at the Santa Fe Opera in 2002, and while visually striking, the production was very static. The COC is reviving the more recent Antwerp Opera production designed by Daniele Finzi Pasca, who has worked with Cirque du Soleil. Here is a video clip of the making of this production. You will notice a brief appearance of Canadian baritone Phillip Addis as Jaufre Rudel. Unfortunately, the clip is mostly in French and German with a tiny bit of English spoken and Dutch subtitles! Still, one can appreciate the dazzling visuals and the tonal textures/colours of the Saariaho score. I am including a second clip, where Pasca talks in English about his vision for his staging for the English National Opera.

Joseph K. So

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