“What attracts me to the character is his confusing psychology” | EUROtoday

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VShe 12 months 2024 marks an anniversary for the French baritone Stéphane Degout who made – simply 25 years in the past – a flamboyant debut on the Aix-en-Provence Festival within the function of Papageno (The Magic Flute). Stage presence, elegant look, cautious phrasing… and naturally splendid voice: the singer instantly reveals himself to be distinctive.

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Since then, the Lyonnais has solely confirmed, by means of his selections of nice inventive demand in addition to his vocal growth, the guarantees of the early years. Outstanding recital performer Winter journeyStéphane Degout was initially of the 12 months on the Salle Favart, enjoying The Other Journey imagined by Raphaël Pichon and Silvia Costa round little-known works by Franz Schubert.

We discover him in the present day on the Opéra du Capitole for the second Eugene Onegin of his profession, after taking a task on the Théâtre de la Monnaie in Brussels, within the winter of 2023. It is Florent Siaud who, after a Lohengrin observed on the Opéra du Rhin, levels this Toulouse present. Nothing, Stéphane Degout explains to us, is evaded from the advanced, even antipathetic, character of Pushkin's hero set to music by Tchaikovsky in what’s undoubtedly probably the most lovely works within the lyrical repertoire.

Point : Eugene Onegin is likely one of the nice baritone roles within the repertoire. A dream you've had for a very long time?

Stéphane Degout: Yes, to the extent that I’ve at all times actually appreciated Tchaikovsky's music. Christophe Gristi, the director of the Capitole, was the primary to supply it to me for a manufacturing which ought to have been completed earlier than the one in Brussels, however which was postponed as a result of Covid-19. What attracts me to the character is his complicated psychology, this contempt he has for the younger woman who declares her love for him, Tatiana. Onegin rejects Tatiana's love, a rejection which might result in a number of interpretations…

We can actually play this function in a number of methods. One choice is to indicate him as haughty, contemptuous, a cad. Or we should recommend that he’s misplaced, maybe struggling, with one thing sophisticated in his previous. There is a literary depth there which comes from the remainder of Pushkin. I've at all times been interested in antiheroes.

How do you put together for such a task?

I began by studying Pushkin in fact. It may be very disturbing to learn the textual content, with the place occupied by the duel between Onegin and Lensky, after we know what finish the poet skilled: a deadly duel. Here, I'm speaking to you about getting ready for the character. Of course the primary issue is the Russian language, with all that it brings in relation to tradition and psychology. It can appear very distant when you haven’t any familiarity with Russia in any respect. And that requires a variety of precision.

In this present, the director, Florent Siaud, sought out Chekhov's aspect, notably with the character of Platonov, his barely offbeat aspect. He additionally introduced again from Pushkin's textual content a scene that Tchaikovsky had surprisingly not preserved: Tatiana's dream. This is a really lovely and enlightening passage. She meets animals within the forest: there may be a variety of attention-grabbing symbolism. The staging is naturalistic however tinged with dreaminess, with flashbacks and ghosts.

What data does the music give in regards to the character?

In the primary scene the place Onegin meets Tatiana's household, there may be at all times the identical musical motif below Onegin's traces. This is undoubtedly a psychological key: this man is a bit boring, he doesn't attempt to shine. In the duet, there are two ariosos [musique libre entre air et récital, et qui porte l’action, NDLR] which have precisely the identical music however totally different lyrics. Here we have now an actual indication that Tchaikovsky offers.

It can be too simple to play Onegin merely as a closed off, evil character. It's extra delicate and attention-grabbing to indicate how he tries to achieve out to others, whereas escaping expectations.

Lately, you will have taken on new roles. Is this an indication that your voice is evolving?

They are merely extra mature roles, roles which are my age. And I like increasingly more characters who’ve a psychological journey, who will not be monoliths. Thanks to the Opéra du Rhin, in Strasbourg, I’ve simply created an unknown opera by Albéric Magnard, Guercoeur. An actual marathon: I used to be on stage for nearly three hours, in a really allegorical, astonishing work.

I used to be blown away by this expertise. I just like the French repertoire from the primary half of the twentieth centurye century…

You have additionally launched, with the pianist Alain Planès, a really lovely disc for the centenary of the dying of Gabriel Fauré…

I’ve at all times performed French melody. From the Conservatory, my instructor put it in my head that it was the important thing to every part. Melody was my gateway to Pelléas and Mélisande. Fauré has too usually been perceived as educational and boring. But after we work on this music, we uncover its depth, its richness.

Fauré's three intervals are like so many various composers. For the singer, this music requires nice self-discipline. He can't stand showoffs. Everything appears easy, and nothing is. The sentences are very lengthy. It takes every part: technical solidity, diction, breath… He has written round 100 melodies. So I can say it, I'm not completed with Fauré!

Eugene Onegin by Pyotr Tchaikovsky. Musical route: Patrick Lange. Director: Florent Siaud. With Stéphane Degout, Valentina Fedeneva, Bror Magnus Todenes, Andreas Bauer Kanabas. Until July 2. www.opera.toulouse.fr

The Good Song. The Chimerical Horizon by Gabriel Fauré by Stéphane Degout and Alain Planès. Harmonia Mundi.