Messiaen's breathtakingly intense opera on the life of St Francis of Assisi stars Rod Gilfry as the charismatic visionary, beguiled by the glory of creation, yet fearful of both its imperfections and its transience. Pierre Audi's thoroughly engaging production for The Netherlands Opera brings out the naive imagery, the grandeur, and above all the vast tenderness of the resplendent score, revealed as a grandiose ritual with the meaning and purpose of life as its central theme. But the real drama of the work takes place in the orchestra.
Elevated to stupendous heights by the sublimely inspired Ingo Metzmacher, The Hague Philharmonic and the Chorus of De Nederlandse Opera combine forces with a brilliant cast to produce the finest possible musical pilgrimage.
The Angel: Camilla Tilling Saint François: Rod Gilfry The Leper: Hubert Delamboye Frère Léon: Henk Neven Frère Massée: Tom Randle Frère Élie: Donald Kaasch Frère Bernard: Armand Arapian The Hague Philharmonic Orchestra Chorus of De Nederlandse Opera Conductor: Ingo Metzmacher Stage Director: Pierre Audi
Interviews: The Children The Message A Chamber Piece…Really
Recorded live at Het Musiektheater, Amsterdam, on 30th May, 11th June & 16th June 2008.
‘The orchestra, drilled to absolute perfection, played as if their lives depended on it, while the choral singing was superb in its intensity. The cast tellingly emphasised the physicality as well as the spirituality of Messiaen's vision. Heartthrob baritone Rod Gilfry played Francis as a charismatic visionary beguiled by the glory of creation, yet fearful of both its imperfections and its transience. The Angel, who teases, consoles and ultimately guides him was sensually sung by Mozart diva Heidi Grant-Murphy. A stupendous evening, and one of the great operatic achievements of recent years.’ The Guardian