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VALERIE’S REVIEW: La Voix Humaine @ Ottawa Fringe 2013

Listen, I’m going to be totally honest here; I’m not an opera connoisseur. I think opera isn’t my cup of tea, and that’s why I just didn’t really get La Voix Humaine.

Should you see it?

ThreeLa Voix Humaine is an opera about a woman’s phone conversation with her ex-boyfriend, who is to be married the next day. During the 40-minute phone call, she decides to kill herself – not by strangling herself with a telephone cord as the Fringe program promises, though. This one-woman opera is presented in the original French with English subtitles.

The play La Voix Humaine was written by Jean Cocteau in 1930, and was turned into an opera by Francis Poulenc in 1959. Maybe this is why I felt disconnected from La Voix Humaine; despite Aria Umezawa’s attempts to modernize the setting, its text places this show firmly in an earlier time.

However, there are a lot of positives here. Rachel Krehm’s voice is lovely, and she delivers the libretto with the wide range of emotions of a woman with a broken heart. An element that really works in Umezawa’s staging is a screen displaying pictures of the woman with the love of her life in happier times, which helps establish the man who stays invisible to us. Patrick Hansen’s piano accompaniment is also great.

It just wasn’t enough to keep me totally invested in our heroine’s plight, but that doesn’t mean I wouldn’t recommend it. If you’re a fan of opera, go see La Voix Humaine, by all means. The thought alone of seeing opera at the Fringe Festival is intriguing enough.

But that’s just my opinion and I’d love to know what you think. Tell me in the comments below!

For more information on La Voix Humaine, check out our preview article.

Photo courtesy of Opera 5 via The Ottawa Fringe Festival. 


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