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This month’s Opera Now cover artist Michael Spyres continues his championing of French opera’s more obscure works with his performance of Rodolphe in Gounod’s La Nonne sanglante (The Bleeding Nun). With this second opera Gounod failed to hit the mark, probably the subject was passé by 1854, and the work disappeared. Drawn from an episode in Matthew Lewis’ gothic novel, The Monk, the story gives the opportunity for boozy choruses, impassioned love duets, plaintive arias and ghostly appearances, in which it’s not dissimilar to Meyerbeer’s earlier Robert le Diable. If you like Faust or Roméo et Juliette you will enjoy this. David Bobée’s production is excellent, at times cinematic, providing spookiness just the right side of camp, and placing the work in a timeless and monochromatic world. The costumes are inventive and the lighting hugely eff ective, illuminating the gothic gloom. Spyres is on top form, with endless legato, voix mixte and high notes. Vannina Santoni is in full lyric fl ood as the soprano Agnès, and Jérôme Boutillier glowers as the baddie. Jodie Devos is feisty as Arthur, the page. Marion Lebègue’s spectral nun is all the better for being played straight, but perhaps a little more volume wouldn’t have gone amiss. Laurence Equilbey’s conducting is balanced and energetic.

Francis Muzzu Read the full review on Agora Classica


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