Jeanne d'Arc au bûcher

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Jeanne d'Arc au bûcher ("Joan of Arc at the Stake") is an oratorio by Arthur Honegger, originally commissioned by Ida Rubinstein. The drama takes place during the heroine's last minutes on the stake, with flashbacks to her younger days and her trial. It premiered on 12 May 1938 in Basel, with Rubinstein as Jeanne, and Jean Périer in the speaking role of Brother Dominique, with the Basel Boys Choir singing the children's chorus part, and Paul Sacher conducting.[1]

Arthur Honegger entitled his work a dramatic oratorio, adding speaking roles and actors. The work has an important part for the ondes Martenot, an early electronic instrument (played at the premiere by its inventor Maurice Martenot).[2]

Claudel's dramatic frame provided Honegger with a space – between heaven and earth, past and present – where he could mix styles from the popular to the sublime. A hybrid work: partly oratorio and partly opera, Honegger uses all his musical means, monody, harmony and counterpoint to build towards sculpted blocks of sound.[3]

The librettist of the work was Paul Claudel. The work is about 70 minutes in length.

At its première in Basel the piece was an immediate success, with critics almost unanimous in praising a perfect cohesion between words and music.[4] On 6 May 1939 after rehearsals at the Salle Pleyel in Paris, the work was given semi-staged with designs by Alexandre Benois at the Théâtre Municipal in Orléans conducted by Louis Fourestier.[5] p80-81 The work was heard again in Basel on 12 May 1939 and then in Zurich on the 14. On 13 June that year at the Palais de Chaillot it was conducted by Charles Munch (who also gave the United States premiere in New York in 1948). After the outbreak of war the work was performed at the Salle Pleyel on 22 February 1940 and in Brussels on 29 February that year. Sacher and Rubinstein made abortive plans for further performances that year, including the Lucerne Festival.[6] On 26 February 1947 Rubinstein organised a concert performance at the Palais des Fêtes in Strasbourg, conducted by Fritz Munch (brother of Charles), which was repeated the following year on 13 June 1948 in the presence of the composer.[7] The work was first performed in Canada at the Montreal Festivals in 1953 under conductor Wilfrid Pelletier.[8]

A 1954 Italian film Giovanna d'Arco al rogo directed by Roberto Rossellini and starring Ingrid Bergman, is a live performance of the work at the San Carlo Theatre in Naples and also featured Giacinto Prandelli, Saturno Meletti and Plinio Clabassi.

Marion Cotillard has starring as Joan of Arc in a live performance of the oratorio a few times, first in 2005, in Orléans, France with the Orléans Symphony Orchestra, directed by Jean-Pierre Loisil. In 2012 in Barcelone, Spain, with the Barcelona Symphony Orchestra, directed by Marc Soustrot. In June 2015, she will perform the oratorio with the New York Philharmonic at Avery Fisher Hall.[9][10]

Roles[edit]

  • Jeanne d'Arc, spoken (dancer) – Ida Rubinstein
  • Virgin Mary, soprano – Berthe de Vigier
  • St Marguerite/First voice, soprano – Rosa van Herck
  • St Catherine, contralto – Ginevra Vivante
  • Brother Dominique, spoken – Jean Périer
  • Porcus, tenor – Ernst Bauer
  • Heurtebise/Clerk, tenor – Charles Vaucher
  • Second voice/First herald – Serge Chandoz
  • Second herald/Third voice, bass
  • Narrator, spoken
  • Master of ceremonies, spoken
  • Third herald, spoken
  • Duke of Bedford, spoken
  • Jean de Luxembourg, spoken
  • Regnault De Chartres, spoken
  • Guillaume De Flavy, spoken
  • Perrot

References[edit]

  1. ^ Halbreich H. Arthur Honegger. Amadeus Press, Portland, 1999 (translation Roger Nichols).
  2. ^ Halbreich H. Arthur Honegger (translation Roger Nichols). Amadeus Press, Portland, 1999, p422-3.
  3. ^ Roy, Jean. Le Groupe des Six. Seuil, Paris 1994, p108.
  4. ^ Depaulis, Jacques. Paul Claudel et Ida Rubinstein: Une collaboration difficile, Volume 517 (1994), Presses Univ. Franche-Comté, p72-73.
  5. ^ Depaulis, Jacques. Paul Claudel et Ida Rubinstein: Une collaboration difficile, Volume 517 (1994), Presses Univ. Franche-Comté, p78-79.
  6. ^ Depaulis, Jacques. Paul Claudel et Ida Rubinstein: Une collaboration difficile, Volume 517 (1994), Presses Univ. Franche-Comté, p80-81.
  7. ^ Depaulis, Jacques. Paul Claudel et Ida Rubinstein: Une collaboration difficile, Volume 517 (1994), Presses Univ. Franche-Comté, p98.
  8. ^ Wilfrid Pelletier at thecanadianencyclopedia.com
  9. ^ "New York Philharmonic To Stage "Joan of Arc" with Marion Cotillard". Blouin ArtInfo. 23 January 2014. Retrieved 1 March 2014. 
  10. ^ "Marion Cotillard in Joan of Arc at the Stake". Nyphil.org. 22 January 2014. Retrieved 10 March 2014. 

See also[edit]