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Olivier Py’s staging at the Champs-Elysées transfers beautifully to screen. It looks stark, almost expressionist, with harsh lighting and deep shadows, nightmarish perspective to accompany Mme Croissy’s death scene, and an unremitting focus on the human material. Py’s meticulous, cinematic direction of the singers – a matter of glances and shadows flitting across the faces – is brilliantly enacted in some standout vocal performances. Patricia Petibon is Blanche, a frightened little faun with uncommonly detailed family relationships, a mixture of trust and wariness who has a very edgy time with Sandrine Piau’s twittery Constance before things settle down. Petibon lets go some breathtaking notes, singing with constant pellucid tone that contains a lot of strength to contrast interestingly with her frail body destroyed by the worm of fear, and hints at the spirit that will finally awaken. Py allows the characters to be complicated, conflicted, human. Jérémie Rhorer conducts a powerful, cumulative account with the Philharmonia Orchestra. Really very good.

Robert Thicknesse Read the full review on Agora Classica

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