Natalie Dessay: Le miracle d´une voix - Greatest moments on stage. Further information here.
For Natalie Dessay, opera is as much theatre as music, clearly evident in the 13 video clips of virtually all her major roles 1993-2003.
There is something so very French about Natalie Dessay (who is from Lyon, which may explain the many clips from the Lyon Opera), who appears to be very straight-forward and honest as well as funny. The only problem with this DVD is that it appears rather disorganized - ideally I´d have preferred the clips to be chronologically organized, instead of mixed in no apparent pattern. Natalie Dessay gives a short (optional as well as excellent) introduction to each piece.
Some arias appear in several versions, such as two times Zerbinetta "Grossmächtige Prinzessin" and three different versions of Natalie Dessay´s early calling-card Olympia´s aria from Offenbach's "Contes d'Hoffman."
Even for those not particularly interested in Natalie Dessay, this DVD provides a very interesting documentation of her vocal development, with particular reference to her vocal troubles including surgery on the vocal chords, beginning 2002.
We hear the lush, unrestrained beauty of her voice in the early 90´s (1993 Frühlingsstimmenwalzer (Vienna), Olympia (Lyon), 1994 Les enfants des sortileges (Lyon) and Magic Flute (Aix)).
It is obvious that Natalie Dessay´s voice has lost much of it´s glow at the end-90´s with a drier sound. This development is already audible in the excerpts from the 1996 Olympia (Vienna State Opera) and continues with the 2000 Orange Olympia, 2001 Salzburg Zerbinetta, 2002 Lyon-Lucie, 2003 Barcelona Hamlet and Paris Zerbinetta 2004. In the middle of which she had surgery on her vocal chords.
Her highest post-2000 notes are often mimicking screams, and even the way she sang in 1995 appeared unhealthy. That said, she was in splendid voice for her 2003 Ophélie, complete with blood dripping down her dress. And dramatically, she seems to continue to grow. 100% committed acting she has always provided. You may like her or not, but she is certainly not boring.
Personally I prefer her in the "lighter" repertoire, such as Zerbinetta, though there is nothing light or comical about her 2001 Salzburg Zerbinetta (Wieler-Morabito´s production) in which Zerbinetta is a disillusioned prostitute working from Harlequin. Or about the 2003 Paris Zerbinetta, a deep-tanned tourist on a Greek island.
As evident from the video clip, Natalie Dessay was Queen of the Night in the Benno Besson Magic Flute production in Paris 2000, but unfortunately she did not perform the role on the recently released DVD of the production..
Below, a curiousity not from this Dessay DVD. Natalie Dessay´s debut as Olympia in Roman Polanski´s Hoffmann production, Paris Bastille 1991, which kick-started her career:
The bottom line:
Overall impression (scale of 1-5, 3=average):