Kaija Saariaho's 'L’Amour de Loin'

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Saturday, December 10, 2016

Eric Owens as Jaufré Rudel and Susanna Phillips as Clémence in Kaija Saariaho's 'L'Amour de Loin'. (Ken Howard/Metropolitan Opera)

Tune in 1 pm on Saturday to hear Finnish composer Kaija Saariaho’s opera L’Amour de Loin. Originally commissioned by the Salzburg Festival where it was first seen in 2000, L’Amour de Loin has its Metropolitan Opera premiere. The production by Robert Lepage features LED lights that extend across the length of the stage and over the orchestra pit to mimic watery effects like ripples, storms and reflecting sunlight on the water. Eric Owens plays Jaufré Rudel who is the  knight on a quest for love. Susanna Phillips is his lover on the other side of the sea. Tamara Mumford is the go-between pilgrim carrying each other messages. This is the Met debut for conductor Susanna Mälkki.

Susanna Mälkki

Susanna Phillips - Clémence
Tamara Mumford- The Pilgrim
Eric Owens - Jaufré Rudel

Comments [1]

Les from Miami, Florida

I was completely entranced from start to finish by this idiom Kaija Saariaho employed in this, astonishingly, her first opera. It was captivating and convincing, this tale of courtly love, set in what seemed to me to be a dream-like almost timeless atmosphere, much like that of "Pe'lleas et Me'lisande" and much of Act III of "Tristan und Isolde". The pedal points and inverted pedal points in the orchestral fabric did much to convey that impression, but the orchestration and harmony astonished me from the standpoints of variety, aptness and unpredictability. The chorus was sublime; the altered chords and intonation were a joy to hear. The desiderata I always look for in principal singers in any opera, fullness of tone, pleasant individual timbre individually as well as in tandem with the others and rather tight vibratos, were more than satisfied with the casting of Cle'mence, The Pilgrim and Jaufre'. I felt deprived in that I didn't have a libretto or the orchestra score to follow, a situation I hope to remedy before I have the opportunity to hear the opera again. Usually P.B.S. in the U.S.A. replays the operas that have been shown around the world in motion picture palaces simultaneously with the live performance at the Metropolitan Opera House, and if and when that occurs, I'll be watching and following the surtitles intently. I'm very interested in reading comments of those who attended performances at the Met in person as well as those who saw it in the motion picture palaces as regards their comments on the staging and lighting, as well as their overall impressions. I hope this opera survives the test of time. I leave it to psychologists, cultural historians, musicologists and other specialists to opine regarding why this opera, now 16 years old, resonates so profoundly in this year of 2016.

Dec. 10 2016 04:20 PM

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