Visszatekintés Méhul Adrien című operájának újkori premierjére

2021. 04. 05.
MÜPA, Budapest
Mostanában ötlött szemembe, hogy Méhul Adrien című operája, 2017-ben megjelent CD formájában (Label: Bru Zane) és immár elérhetővé vált a Presto online áruház kínálatában is. Ennek örömére töltöm fel egy a Music Barocca digitális magazin hasábjain megjelent angol nyelvű koncert beszámolómat.

The second half of the eighteenth century witnessed the decline and demise of the French idiom one of the most influental stylistic currents of the baroque period, which for a long time served as a model for several foreign countries in composition and made a long lasting impression on the performance practice of almost the whole continent. However, recent interest in obscure repertoire and composers of transitional musical periods has shed light on the achievements of the indigenous composers of the "revolutionary period". Following the footsteps of composers such as Malgoire, Christie, Minkowski and Niquet the ever curious György Vashegyi, in collaboration with the Centre de Musique Baroque de Versailles energetically revived a characteristic composition of this transitional era. The selected opera was Méhul's Adrien (1799), which may seem a reasonable option for the layperson, but expert connoisseurs might have been surprised by the choice itself taking into account of Méhul's relatively good publicity. Reviewing my collection, a considerable inhomogeneity could be detected. While Monsigny, Philidor, Gossec, Lesueur, Catel, Dalayrac, Hérold and Rodolphe Kreutzer are represented in my catalogue by only a few operas and 5-10 hours of music per capita, Méhul seems to be one of the most popular French representatives of the period. This view is supported by the following data in my collection: it contains one set of sonatas, two compilations of overtures, 3 publications (one is complete) of symphonies, songs of the revolution, a Coronation mass and 5 operas (La Légende de Joseph en Égypte, Uthal, L'Irato ou l'Emporte, Horatius Cocles, Stratonice). Further, Joseph and Irato both exists in 3 versions which means that Mehul’s oeuvre is represented by 30 hours of music in my collection. However, apart from the Joseph, which is, indeed a true masterpiece the rest simply did not profit by comparison with the tuneful works by the alien composers or Grétry's Richard, Cœur-de-Lion, Zémire et Azore", Céphale et Procris, or La Caravane du Caire. Of course, Grétry's special merit was already pointed out by Romain Rolland more than a hundred years ago (Musiciens d'autrefois, 1908, in Hungarian: Romain Rolland: Lully, Gluck, Grétry, Zenei kiskönyvtár sorozat, Gondolat, Bp., 1981, 225-267. o). Nevertheless, considering Vashegyi's always careful management, the audience may have expected a well-crafted and entertaining musical spectacle. I was especially interested in the project from dramatic point of view. Méhul, born into the system of opéra comique was well trained in that genre characterized by short airs, interspersed with spoken dialogues. The adjective "comique" is rather misleading, since, over a long stylistic evolution, only the formal framework was retained and the genre covered almost the complete dramatic range. One can consider it as a descendant of masque and comédie-ballet, and the predecessor of Singspiel, operetta and zarzuela. The performance was for the most part outstanding, an almost unprecedented quality in the history of Hungarian presentations of pre-romantic music. Even for the most sophisticated connoisseur, who can get access to Méhul's music in the translation of Christie and Minkowski for comparison's sake. Both the orchestra instructed by Standage and the chorus led carefully by Vashegyi performed magnificently. But the truly outstanding presentation was given by the brilliant soloists. Philippe Do's rendering of Adrien's character was a breathtaking experience. Philippe Do has a strong, shining, flexible voice of nice timbre, which is rich in overtones and therefore able to convey the full scale of human emotions. The only shortcoming was the slight but palpable weakness of artistic design. Méhul, as a typical French composer of opéra-comique did not succeed in overcoming completely the barrier between different genres. Therefore, to please the contemporary audience, the conductor's main duty should have been to polish the crude original and to come up with a unified concept that eliminates those distracting components, which reveal the composer's momentary helplessness. The musical texture, indeed, unveils several shaky moments and weaknesses in overall design. Seemingly, the opera is a through-composed piece, but, paradoxically it is based upon an adapted Metastasio drama. A more serious problem is the unevenness in musical expression. The first act is pioneering, gloomy, brave, rich in attractive effects. It sternly and steadily progresses completely blurring the borders between individual movements, and perfectly illustrating the importance of Méhul's "romantic" music in the path that led to Wagner. However, he inevitable, destructive impact of repeated reworking and restructuring result in a deep gash in the musical texture, after the first act. From then onwards, stylistically, the piece resembles the operas by Gluck. The atmosphere changes significantly and the work advances at a more leisurely pace. Admirable, separate solo pieces call for the audience's attention, virtuosity, melodic richness and a slight Gluck epigonism make these acts similar to Grétry's serious operas. The virtues of this rendering perfectly emphasized Méhul's achievements and shed light on his importance in the history of the opera. The presentation and the possible commercial release are obviously gap-filling, since thus far, it was this performance that has revived the most ambitious work by Méhul. It is especially important because, although Méhul has far less melodic gift than Philidor, Monsigny, Dalayrac or Grétry, his dramatic vein is unique in the contemporary French music. Méhul, light-heartedly sacrificed vocal melodiousness on the altar of progressive drama and paid much more attention to the so far barely exploited capabilities of the stage orchestra. Of course, the musical orientation of his admirers (Berlioz, Weber, Schumann, and Wagner) was similar. The evolutionary process paved by Méhul's followers became more and more orchestra oriented. They ponderously ignored the intrinsic values of human voice and subordinated melodic invention to the realization and servile representation of the text. During this "third reform" the original idea of cantar recitando and Calzabigi's prima la parole poi la musica were further developed and chiseled into the aesthetic concept of Sprechgesang.

  • Művészeti alkotómunkát támogató ösztöndíjpályázat 2023–2026

    2026. 01. 01.
    Idén már hatodik alkalommal hirdeti meg művészeti alkotómunkát támogató ösztöndíjpályázatát a Magyar Művészeti Akadémia.
  • Piros Orr szakmai nap

    2023. 10. 14.
    A Piros Orr Bohócdoktorok első szakmai konferenciája
  • V. New Millennium Nemzetközi Kamarazenei Fesztivál és Akadémia

    2023. 08. 31., 00:00:00 — 2023. 09. 05., 23:59:00
    Ötödik alkalommal rendezik meg a New Millennium Nemzetközi Akadémiát Budapesten 2023. augusztus 31-e és szeptember 5-e között.
  • Fast Forward Program alkotótábor fiatal filmeseknek

    2023. 08. 07., 15:40:00 — 2023. 08. 16., 15:40:00
    film- és fotóművészet
    FFP alkotótábor fiatal filmeseknek - A Nemzeti Filmintézet idén nyáron Terényben szervezi meg Fast Forward Programjának alkotótáborát. A dokumentumfilmes csoport mentora Zurbó Dorottya filmrendező.
  • "Cantare, suonare" Régi Zene Akadémia

    2023. 07. 10., 17:00:00 — 2023. 07. 16., 22:00:00
    Barokk fuvola kurzus