03 Aug 2005
La Voix Humaine at Glimmerglass
In Summer Opera, Smallest Is Best
By Heidi Waleson [Wall Street Journal, 3 August 2005]
The most satisfying opera at Glimmerglass this summer was the smallest -- Poulenc's "La Voix Humaine" (1959) performed by soprano Amy Burton. The intimacy of this piece makes it hard to pull off: A woman talks on the phone for 45 minutes with the husband who has left her (the libretto is by Jean Cocteau), and we hear the stages of her despair. A suicide attempt is mentioned. Some singers turn the piece into a hysterical melodrama, torturing their voices, but with Sam Helfrich's direction, Ms. Burton played the scene with a subtle realism and beauty of sound that was infinitely more wrenching and vulnerable.