Back from Paris, where she celebrated the 30th anniversary of Jean-Christophe Spinosi’s Ensemble Matheus, Marie-Nicole Lemieux offers a recital in the form of an ode to love associating Brahms and Massenet at the Bourgie hall on Wednesday.
“I just want to give love. I am in this state. It’s so hard, life. When people come to the concert, I just want them to forget their problems, ”explains the singer, in an interview with the To have to.
The Quebec contralto becomes euphoric when she talks about Jules Massenet. It is a subject that she knows well, since she recorded, in 2020, 45 melodies as part of a monumental integral project, under the ATMA label, piloted by Olivier Godin and Marc Boucher.
“I designed the program on the theme of love with Brahms and Massenet; maternal love, but also mystical love. There is a great deal of introspection in this recital: the Serious songs of Brahms, it could not be more topical! For Massenet, I chose the Lyrical expressions, one of his last cycles, dedicated to his last muse and last lover, Lucy Arbell ”, summarizes Marie-Nicole Lemieux.
Declare your passion
Jules Massenet (1842-1912) was almost 60 years old when, in 1901, he dedicated his first melody to contralto Lucy Arbell, who was 23 at the time. Two years later, Arbell debuted as Delilah at the Paris Opera. Les Lyrical expressions were composed between 1902 and 1912.
“It is an astonishing work, because Massenet uses declamation. The spoken declamation, but also the sung declamation. This is a bit like the Chanting [le chanté-parlé, technique de chant associée aux compositeurs de l’École de Vienne, notamment Berg]. We can either declaim, that is to say a rhythmic word on the music, or adopt the sung word, says Mme The best. There are a lot of feminine poems, and it’s an ode of love. We feel that these lovers, they laughed together, they loved each other everywhere. It is a special work. “
According to musicologist Catherine Scholler, the idea of mixing song and declamation would be Lucy Arbell herself. Marie-Nicole Lemieux was seduced by the mystical side of aging Massenet, inspired by this gifted young muse. “A text is mystical ecstasy; it is Saint Teresa with her reverberating rays. And the music is powerful… ”she enthuses.
The idyll of Massenet and d’Arbell will be shortened by the cancer of the intestines which will carry off the composer. In 1912, Massenet will be able to finish in extremis his opera Cleopatra. He will write in a codicil to his will: “The role of Cleopatra was written for Mlle Lucy Arbell, 10, avenue de l’Alma, Paris. She is the one I designate for the creation of this role and the representations that will follow from this work: Cleopatra. »
Mme Massenet, Louise-Constance de Gressy, known as Ninon, trampled on the wishes of her late husband. The role of Cleopatra will be premiered on February 23, 1914 by Maria Nikolaïevna Kouznetsova. But Massenet’s love for Lucy is printed on sheet music.
Marie-Nicole Lemieux will recount the things of love between Jules and Lucy on Wednesday evening at the Bourgie room alongside pianist Daniel Blumenthal.