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Boesmans - Yvonne, Princesse de Bourgogne

Dörte Lyssewski, Marcel Reijans, Hannah Esther Minutillo and Mireille Delunsch etc Klangforum Wien/Cambreling

Cypres CYP4632 [UK distributor Codaex]

Philippe Boesmans’ opera was a success at its 2009 premiere in Paris and showed promise that it would travel to many more opera theatres in coming years [Financial Times].

Yvonne, Princesse de Bourgogne opera is in repertoire (Belgium, Le Monnaie, September 2010) and is available on CD (only?) from Cypres.

It is a fable, with links to Prokofiev's Prince who can't laugh and Stravinsky's Rake who is persuaded it would be great fun to marry a beaded woman.

But Gombrowicz is crueller than either, because Boesmans's Phillipe, bored by the beauties offered, opts instead for an ugly, nearly silent Princesse to general discomfiture at Court. The marriage goes badly and regal normality is restored by Yvonne choking to death on an unboned pike... It is a black comedy; as staged by Luc Bondy more black than comic.

The music is eclectic, very well crafted and continually interesting. The CDs are provided with translated essays about the composer, a synopsis of the opera in English and full texts in French only; that proved to be manageable with rusty school French. As it is a co-production with Le Monnaie etc, a DVD (with multlingual subtitles) may be anticipated?

Meanwhile, recommended as a fresh, accessible opera for home listening.

PPeter Grahame Woolf