From Paris to Vienna, Natalie Dessay has sung Mozart (Königing der Nacht, Konstanze, Concert’s Arias…), Richard Strauss (Zerbinetta in Ariadne auf Naxos, Sophie in Rosenkavalier, Aminta in Die Schweigsamefrau), but she made her “debut” with the French repertoire: Olympia at Paris National Opera and Lakmé at the Opéra Comique.
Natalie Dessay has sung Stravinsky’s Rossignol at the Théâtre du Châtelet and in Berlin, Ophélie (Hamlet) at the Grand Théâtre of Geneva, Capitole de Toulouse, Théâtre du Châtelet, Covent Garden and Liceu of Barcelona, Zerbinetta (Ariadne auf Naxos) at the Metropolitan Opera of New-York and at the Opera de Paris.
Natalie Dessay has begun to sing Bel Canto with Amina (La Sonnambula) at the Opéra de Lausanne, Opéra de Bordeaux, Scala of Milano and Santa Fe, Lucie de Lammermoor (the French version) at the Opéra de Lyon and Lucia (Italian version) at the Chicago Opera.
She has performed Massenet’s Manon at the Grand Théâtre of Geneva, at the Liceu, in San Francisco, in Chicago, at the Opéra de Paris and in Toulouse, Mélisande (Pelléas et Mélisande) in Glasgow and at the Theater an der Wien, Juliette (Gounod’s Roméo et Juliette) at the Metropolitan Opera, Pamina (Die Zauberflöte) in Santa Fe, Lucia (Lucia di Lammermoor) at Opéra de Paris, at the Metropolitan Opera under James Levine’s baton, and in Moscow under Valeri Guerguiev’s baton, Amina (La Sonnambula) at the Opéra de Lyon, at the Théâtre des Champs-Elysées, at the Metropolitan Opera and at the Opéra de Paris, Marie (La Fille du Régiment) in London, Vienna, New York and Paris, Musetta (La Bohème) and Cleopatra (Giulio Cesare) at the Opera de Paris and at the Metropolitan Opera, La Traviata in Santa Fe, in Japan with the Teatro Regio di Torino, in Aix-en-Provence, at the Wiener Staatsoper and at the Metropolitan Opera of New York and The Tales of Hoffmann at the Liceu and in San Francisco.
Now, she sings in concert with baroque ensembles and recitals, especially with the French pianist Philippe Cassard.
Natalie Dessay is awarded Kammersängerin by the Wiener Staatsoper.
“It’s not that I’m leaving opera,” she told Le Figaro. “It’s that opera is leaving me.” By that, she meant that she was increasingly uncomfortable to be nearing 50 and still playing teenagers. But she had nowhere else to go in the repertory, having never been quite as convincing, vocally or dramatically, in tragic parts like Donizetti’s Lucia di Lammermoor or Violetta in Verdi’s “La Traviata” and lacking the vocal heft to shift to heavier roles.
In many ways, Handel’s Cleopatra has best fit the bill over the past few years, showing off Ms. Dessay’s high-flying coloratura prowess and her more mature side. Last year at the Met, she was game for the role, if vocally ill at ease. On Sunday, in a smaller hall, with a smaller orchestra and a conductor with whom she seems entirely comfortable, she was more persuasive.
Ms. Dessay’s voice is now an exaggerated version of what it was in her heyday, for both better and worse. The floating, bell-like clarity she used to attain on certain notes may, if anything, be even more uncannily lucid now, and her precision in quick-moving runs — like those in the triumphant “Da tempeste” — remains exceptional. But what used to be just a hint of sour thinness in her tone, which you either accepted as a quirk or didn’t, has become more pervasive.
In “V’adoro pupille,” Ms. Dessay lacked a certain measure of sensuality, and in the great lament “Se pietà,” her phrasing was too curt to build emotional momentum. But Ms. Haïm and Le Concert d’Astrée, sounding silky and suave, supported her at every turn, and Ms. Dessay’s voice blended into the instrumental textures in “Piangerò” to ravishing effect.
Mr. Dumaux, who played the villainous Tolomeo opposite Ms. Dessay at the Met last year, was here promoted to the opera’s title role, sounding forceful but without edge as a confident yet sensitive Cesare.
Le Concert d’Astrée was sweet-toned and alert throughout, with crucial solos from the violinist David Plantier and the flutist Sébastien Marq. The ensemble was particularly artful in the Suite in G from Handel’s “Water Music,” a cleverly selected interlude that matched the arias on the program in vivacity and poignancy.Continue reading the main story