Stage Door News

Toronto: VOICEBOX: Opera in Concert presents “La Voix humane” – the play and the opera

Thursday, November 19, 2020

VOICEBOX: Opera in Concert goes back to the future for its first foray into the digital world.  In 1975 the legendary Stuart Hamilton first paired Cocteau’s play La Voix Humaine with Poulenc’s opera of the same name and General Director Silva-Marin has chosen to revive this unique double bill as the inaugural production of VOICEBOX: Opera in Concert’s virtual season for 2021. “The pandemic has caused all performing arts organizations to improvise and innovate” noted Silva-Marin, “and we will be filming the play and opera in December for digital broadcast in the new year”. Both works are monodramas and VOICEBOX: Opera in Concert announces acclaimed actress Chilina Kennedy as ‘Elle’ in the play performed in English and soprano Mariam Khalil sings the opera role in French, thus achieving a bilingual presentation for our admiring public. Led from the piano by the extraordinary Narmina Afandiyeva, Silva-Marin will be the dramatic advisor and the Canadian firm of Great Northern Productions - Rick and Ryan Harper will handle the videography and audio recording.

Jean Cocteau’s one-act play, La Voix Humaine or The Human Voice premiered at the Comédie- Française in Paris in 1930.  Poulenc and Cocteau had discussed setting the play as an opera for over two decades and the premiere finally took a place in 1958. An almost perfect fusion of music and drama, both composer and playwright captured the rhythm and accents of actual speech patterns, especially ‘the pauses and hesitations of a phone conversation’.  The time is the present as a young woman struggles to save a broken relationship with her lover.  The work is a tour de force for both actor and singer and the one-sided phone call leads us through denial, despair, anger, contrition and humiliation before the line is cut for the last time. 

Chilina Kennedy is one of Canada’s most renowned actresses and she has starred on Broadway in Beautiful – The Carole King Musical and Jesus Christ Superstar.  She headlined the National tours of Les Miserables, Mamma Mia and The Band’s Visit and has numerous credits at the Stratford and Shaw Festival. The Human Voice marks Ms. Kennedy’s debut with Opera in Concert.  Lebanese-Canadian soprano Miriam Khalil has been hailed for performances as Mimi in La boheme, Susanna in Le nozze di Figaro and Cleopatra in Giulio Cesare for Minnesota Opera, Glyndebourne Opera, Calgary Opera, Pacific Opera Victoria and the Canadian Opera Company. She is a founding member of Against the Grain Theatre and is especially noted for her performances of Ayre by Golijov. Music Director and Pianist Narmina Afandiyeva has led a number of operas for Opera in Concert and has also been associated with the Royal Conservatory of Music, the University of Toronto and many of Canada’s most accomplished recitalists. 

Opera in Concert is supported by the Patrons Circle the Jackman Foundation, Nancy's Very Own Foundation, The Dianne and Irving Kipnes Foundation, Canada Council for the Arts, the Ontario Arts Council and the Toronto Arts Council.

This double-bill performance will be online from January 15th to 29th, 2021. Tickets will be available through our website after December 1st, 2020.