François-Marie Juskowiak's deft fingers perfectly complemented Marion Baglan's gracious vocals
French soprano soloist Marion Baglan and pianist François-Marie Juskowiak evoked a thunderous response from a packed audience at The Alliance Française in a concert recently.
The evening began with “Der Hölle Rache” (aria of the queen of the night) an excerpt from the Magic Flute by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. One of his strongest works, this piece voices the struggle between virtue and revenge and virtue's ultimate triumph.
Marion executed the flamboyant tune with a flurry of expressions and voice modulation while François played with deft excellence.
Wearing a long, flowing red dress, Marion gracefully walked across the stage with her hands on her hips as she delivered “The maids of Cadiz” by French composer Léo Delibes .
The 1863 buoyant melody set in lively tones narrates the song of seductive young ladies that reject the favours from three men: a bullfighter, a dark dashing Spaniard and the jealous Diego.
Marion went on to intonate another creation of Delibes titles “Where is the young Hindu?” an excerpt from Lakmé. A vocally brilliant and colourful piece, Marion executed it with fantastic flair and accent.
The opera piece talks about the Brahman Nilakanta who forces his daughter Lakmé to sing hoping that the Englishman Gerald who desires her, will show up and identify himself.
Marion continued to enthral the audience with “You gave me the most beautiful dream”, where Lakmé and Gérald are united but to save him from her people, Lakmé bites the flower of the poisonous datura plant and declares her love for him as she dies.
“Lead me to the person that l love”, an excerpt from Robinson Crusoé by German-born French composer Jacques Offenbach followed where François' deft fingers orated notes perfectly complemented Marion's gracious soul-stirring voice in the romantic piece.
François played two piano solo pieces during the concert - the First Arabesque by Claude Debussy and Fantaisie-Impromptu by Frédéric Chopin.
All through the programme, Marion unleashed an emotion-packed ; She laughed, cried, complained, ruminated, smiled and completely held the audience in awe with her voice and expressions.
“Birds in the arbour”, an excerpt from Les Contes d'Hoffmann by Jacques Offenbach was an interesting piece. Marion impersonates Olympia, a mechanical doll gifted with singing powers. Swaying her head from side to side and moving like a doll, she had to be wound up in-between by the pianist to sing again in comic harmony.
An intriguing number was “Papa always desires, alas!, that I enjoy myself alone”, an excerpt from The Adventures of King Pausole by Swiss composer Arthur Honegger. The wishful cry of Aline who is confined by her father made a tear flow from every eye in the audience.
The finale was “Glitter and gay”, an excerpt from the opera Candide by American composer Leonard Bernstein. The conflict of Cunégonde who is pulled between her irrepressible taste for the good things in life and her passionate love for Candide is beautifully chorused by Marion and François.
A standing ovation garnered an encore from the duo. A high-pitched vocal extravaganza accompanied by the piano's soulful romantic notes was a fitting end to an exhilarating evening of music.