Pelléas et Mélisande at the BBC Proms

The Independent, by Michael Church, 16 July 2012

Prom 3: Pelleas et Melisande Orchestre Revolutionnaire/Gardiner Royal Albert Hall ****

Scaling the rarefied heights of Debussy’s ‘Pelleas et Melisande’, John Eliot Gardiner and his Monteverdi Choir and Orchestre Revolutionnaire et Romantique gave a performance which was in many ways definitive.

In Laurent Naouri - a bass-baritone with huge vocal presence - he had a magnificent Golaud, and in the bright-toned Phillip Addis a fine Pelleas, while John Tomlinson made a thunderous Arkel. But the Melisande of Karen Vourc’h represented a structural weakness in that, though she had bags of power in reserve, she chose to sing near-inaudibly during what should have been her most dramatic scenes.

But there was much else to admire as the tragedy pursued its somnambulistic course, floating along on the most magical orchestral playing I have heard in years.

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