Albéric Magnard: GuercœurOpéra national du Rhin, Strasbourg

160 min

Available until 25/11/2024

Guercœur, the knight and a freedom fighter, meets with an early death and ends up in heaven. But his soul is unable to rest and begs to be returned to earth. At the Opéra national du Rhin, Stéphane Degout plays the title role under the direction of Ingo Metzmacher, while Christof Loy’s staging explores the boundaries between the two worlds.

In the ethereal afterlife, there is no time or space. The Shades, freed from their earthly cares, celebrate the greatness of the Goddess of Truth. Shrouded in eternal glory, she sits triumphant, flanked by Beauty and Goodness, while at her feet lies Suffering in her mantle of blood. In the midst of this chorus of praise, a discordant lament rises: “To live! Who will give me back the thrill of life?” The voice belongs to Guercœur, who died in the prime of life after falling in love with Giselle and freeing his people from a tyrant, assisted by his friend Heurtal. Unable to rest, Guercœur begs to return to his fleshly form. Truth warns him: two years have already passed on Earth where nothing lasts forever. His fall from paradise could be brutal.

Composed between 1897 and 1901 by Albéric Magnard, Guercœur is an atmospheric fin-de-siècle lyrical tragedy. Its visionary libretto tells the story of a knight who, having been killed in battle, is allowed to leave heaven and return to earth. But he will be bitterly disappointed...

Only part of the work was performed during the composer’s lifetime, in a concert version in Nancy and Paris. The completed work was tragically lost during the First World War. In 1914, the idealistic Magnard died at the age of 49, trying to protect his property from some German soldiers, who burned his house down in retaliation. All his scores were reduced to ashes.

Guercœur was reborn thanks to his friend Joseph Guy Ropartz, who used a piano reduction to reconstruct the missing acts from memory. For this production at the Opéra national du Rhin, baritone Stéphane Degout inhabits the title role brilliantly, accompanied by the Strasbourg Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Ingo Metzmacher. Christof Loy’s staging depicts this world and the afterlife as two sides of the same coin.

Filmed on 2 and 4 May 2024 at the Opéra national du Rhin.

With

  • Stéphane Degout

  • Antoinette Dennefeld

  • Catherine Hunold

  • Adriana Bignagni Lesca

  • Glen Cunningham

  • Marie Lenormand

  • Alysia Hanshaw

  • Gabrielle Philiponet

  • Julien Henric

  • Eugenie Joneau

  • Natalia Bohn, Yannick Bosc, Lucas Bléger, Laurence De Cet, Éric Kaija Guerrier

  • Dominique Kling, Aleksandra Kubuschok, Caroline Roques, Nicolas Umbdenstock

Composer

Albéric Magnard

Director

Christof Loy

Music director

Ingo Metzmacher

Orchestra

Orchestre philharmonique de Strasbourg

Choir director

Hendrik Haas

Choir

Choeur de l'Opéra national du Rhin

Country

France

Year

2024

In partnership with

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