Tristesse No. 2, Op. 6
In this voice session, Professor Jean-Paul Fouchécourt and student Florian Pereira take on Tristesse by French composer Gabriel Fauré, a song based on a poem by Theophile Gautier.
A challenging aspect of this song is managing the emotions and intentions of the piece. With this, Fouchécourt instructs his student to preserve his energy throughout the piece so that he does not prematurely deplete all of his resources, so that he can effectively build his crescendos where needed.
Furthermore, the professor explains how it can be easy to accentuate every word and lose a "sense of simplicity" in the French language. Pereira must strive to keep it simple and focus on the text and his intentions. Fouchécourt addresses the tempo and advises his student against slowing down too much. While the student is encouraged to personalize his interpretation, Fouchécourt underlines the importance of expressing the last verse in a very heavy and somber manner.
Managing the emotional range of the piece.
Avoid overly accentuating certain words.
Studying the original poem and learning its many nuances.
Keeping it simple, avoiding slowing down.
Keeping reserves of energy and intensity for the last verse.
Tristesse by Gabriel Fauré is part of a cycle of songs and melodies, organized in 32 opus numbers, written in 1873, and published in 1876. Entitled Tristesse, this piece is based on the eponymous Theophile Gautier poem, which was part of the 1838 booklet La comédie de la mort. The song tells the story of a melancholic man who sees spring and joy return, but feels so sad and lonely that he does not think he can ever love again.
The complexity of the composition lies in the fact that the first three verses of the text are bright and light, but the underlying sadness must show through.
Aim for excellence! You can improve your skills with expert advice. Download the annotated sheet music of this masterclass for voice. Please note that this piece has been annotated in accordance to Jean-Paul Fouchécourt’s feedback and comments.
He is now passing on his experience to the younger generation and has been directing the destiny of the Studio de l'Opéra de Lyon (SOL) since the 2010-2011 season.
Jean-Paul Fouchécourt has gained an international reputation by his portraits of Platté de Rameau and Arnalta (l’Incoronazione di Poppea) of Monteverdi, the 'character' roles, such as Offenbach's Four Valets (Offenbach's Tales), Chabrier's Phew (The Star), Ravel's Child and Spells and The Spanish Hour.
Beginning his musical journey as a classical saxophonist and conductor, Fouchécourt became a singer after singer Cathy Berberian encouraged him to work on his voice. He made his debut in 1993 at the Amsterdam Opera with L'Incoronazione di Poppea alongside Christophe Rousset.
In 1996, Jean-Paul Fouchécourt was hired to sing the roles of Poulenc's Mamelles de Tirésias 'Husband' directed by Seiji Ozawa at the Saito Kinen Festival, which marked his international debut and provided him access to major venues, including but not limited to London's Covent Garden, New York City Opera, Teatro alla Scala, Opera Bastille, etc. He has also appeared at festivals in Aix-en-Provence, Salzburg, and more. He is a frequent guest of the Boston Symphonic, National of France, Vienna Philharmonic, BBC Symphony, and the Rotterdam Philharmonic. Furthermore, he has worked with prestigious conductors including Charles Dutoit, Sir John Eliot Gardiner, Valery Gergiev, Yannick Nézet- Seguin, James Levine, Antonio Pappano, and Sir Simon Rattle.
With over a hundred recordings, Jean-Paul Fouchécourt has a broad repertoire. He is delighted to pass on his experience to the younger generation, and has been working at the Studio de l'Opéra de Lyon (SOL) since 2011. He is a Knight in the National Order of Merit.
Gabriel Fauré was a French composer, organist, choirmaster, and teacher born in 1845 in the southern town of Pamiers. He was sent to Paris to study music at the age of 9 and started teaching and playing the organ in churches after completing his studies. Post education, Fauré continued to earn a living as a teacher, but wrote little music. Eventually, he wedded and had two sons, however he began to pursue a hedonistic lifestyle of a Parisian artist: attending events in the evenings, chain-smoking, and frequenting women, much to the dismay of his wife. Only after Fauré started a passionate love affair with a woman named Emma Bardac did the musician begin to write again.
Fauré was eventually appointed head of the Conservatoire de Paris, and the public increasingly recognized his compositions. Unfortunately, his health and hearing declined, and eventually succumbed to pneumonia at the age of 79. Among his most established works are the String Quartet in E minor, Op 121, Nocturnes, Piano Quintets, Piano Quartets No. 1 and No. 2, Cello Sonata No 2 in G minor, Op 117, Complete Songs, Vol 2, Requiem and Ballade, Op 19. In total, he won five prizes from the Académie française: the Prix Montyon for Heures d'Ombrie in 1908; the Prix Jules Davaine for Sur la vie Emilia in 1911; the Prix Marcelin Guérin for Paysages littéraires in 1918; the Prix Alfred Née in 1930; and the Grand Prix de Littérature for the entirety of his creative output in 1941.
Photo credit: Paul Nadar