Cher Public

The flèche is weak

Though he composed just one opera—Pelléas et Mélisande which after an absence of eight years returns to the Met on the 15th under Yannick Nézet-Séguin, Claude Debussy wrote a number of large-scale vocal/choral pieces two of which are featured today on “Trove Thursday”: La Damoiselle élue and Le Martyre de Saint Sébastien, both with Anna Prohaska and Marianne Crebassa conducted by Daniel Barenboim

Each work has a sophisticated literary pedigree of the “Gabriel” kind. Damoiselle, a cantata from 1893, is based on a text by the English Pre-Raphaelite poet and painter Dante Gabriel Rosetti, brother of the perhaps better-known Christina Rosetti.

Dante Rosetti may not have been as hot as Oliver Reed but those who don’t know the English director Ken Russell’s early biographies for the BBC might want to investigate Dante’s Inferno along with his superb portraits of Delius and Isadora Duncan.

A “musical mystery play,” Martyre—which followed nearly 20 years lateris a collaboration with the Italian playwright Gabriele D’Annunzio, the lover of the legendary actress Duse. It may perhaps seem odd that two very heterosexual artists created a work (for female singers no less) revolving around the saint who has inspired some of the most homoerotic art.

Trailer for Derek Jarman’s fascinating film Sebastiane (the only film ever made in Latin?) is NSFW.

Debussy: La Damoiselle élue
Musikverein, Vienna
9 May 2018
Broadcast

Anna Prohaska
Marianne Crebassa

Staatskapelle Berlin
Daniel Barenboim — conductor

Debussy: Le Martyre de Saint Sébastien
Musikverein, Vienna
10 May 2018
Broadcast

Anna Prohaska
Marianne Crebassa
Anna Lapkovskaja

Maria Furtwängler – Narrator

Staatskapelle Berlin
Daniel Barenboim — conductor

Both Debussy works can be downloaded by clicking on the icon of a square with an arrow pointing downward on the audio player and the resulting mp3 files will appear in your download directory.

Nearly 200 other podcast tracks are always available from iTunes for free, or via any RSS reader.