The cast of singers certainly communicate words and drama with a speechlike intensity that occasionally borders on Sprechstimme.
David Vickers, 1er novembre 2022, Gramophone
An almost crushing force, including lightening flashes and contemplation. [...] Personal and original, the vision is there, defended with conviction. [...] The conductor and his troops push us to question, sometimes abruptly, our listening habits.
Jean-Christophe Pucek, 29 septembre 2022, Diapason
It’s enough to hear Lucile Richardot’s Penelope in the first scene. It’s Monteverdi on a Fellini set. And yet nothing leans towards caricature ; everything serves the drama. It is overwhelming and wonderful, led by an exceptional conductor, with Valerio Contaldo, Lucile richardot, Ambroisine Bré, Juan Sancho, Cyril Auvity and many other remarkable singers.
Christophe Huss, 23 septembre 2022, Le Devoir
This is a seminal version of Il Ritorno d’plisse in Patria, firstly thanks to its two principal singers Lucile Richardot and Valerio contaldo, whose performances are hair-raising. [...] It’s not exactly parlando…nor cantando….it’s pure fever. [...] A remarkable version from beginning to end.
Charles Sigel, 6 septembre 2022, Forum Opéra
Stéphane Fuget and his ensemble Les Epopées have set down , on this disc, a Monteverdi trilogy to make history. [...] It is not about singing beautifully (even though the singers know how), but making theatre. Sighs, pauses, exclamations, prayers ; from the masterful ‘Di misera regina’ we are in a nervous incarnation of recitar cantando.
Vincent Borel, 1er septembre 2022, Opéra Magazine
In this new Ulysses, the main novelty is the fertile reflection on ‘declamation in recitative’, led by Stéphane Fuget and exploited in this libretto. The resulting baroque Sprechgesang, characterised in Penelope’s initial monologue, is emblematic, with Lucile Richardot’s singing mixing parlando, glissandi and varying coloraturas (from rugged throat to the most radiant of lyric registers). The effect is prodigious!
Denis Morrier, 1er septembre 2022, Diapason
Stéphane Fuget sees baroque music as a playground, and renews the genre.
Thierry Voisin, 24 aout 2022, Télérama
Caring for each word and and for an expressive yet intelligible language, a delicate yet sometimes violent instrumental cover tailored and directed to the accents and affects of the singing, an architecturally coherent conception, yet also a sumptuous choral nuance…. Stéphane Fuget has already transformed our knowledge of Lully’s grands motets ; he uses the same approach with Monteverdi, using the same power of the ‘recitar cantando’, the vocal style particular to the first lyric works. Somewhere between speech and song, Monteverdi wants to articulate, comment and express the meaning of the text. Because for him music, instruments and singing serve action and speech….music is servant to the text. Stéphane Fuget views Monteverdi’s first lyrical language as an ample declaration, where the tragic lyre pierces, impotent before disposessed man…
8 septembre 22, Classiquenews
Watching him direct the work, we see Stéphane Fuget whisper each word uttered by the soloists or the chorus and we see how much his musical interpretation relies on the text and on the dramatic dynamic of each situation. Each word finds its own weight, supported by silence, and the corresponding harmonic accents, which serve to intensify the musical discourse and the beauty of each word - and reveals just how expressive the libretto of Orfeo really is! The balance between the inner and outer affects is always upheld with rare sensitivity and the interpretation is never gratuitously sophisticated. It is always simply thought through to exalt the poetic and musical richness in each moment of the work. [...] The crescendos and the various accents following the reprise of ‘Ahi case acerbo’ are compelling.
Clément Mariage, 30 Juillet 2022, Forum Opéra
The devoted soloists, a choir giving one hundred percent, and a marvellous ensemble present a balanced performance, which shines as much in its virtuosic baroque passages as in its more contemplative and reserved moments. Listening to this interpretation, we better understand the emotions which Madame de Sévigny felt during the first ever performance, before a tearful audience.
Remy Franck, 19 juillet 2022, Pizzicato
Stéphane Fuget and his specialised ensemble Les Epopées have already propelled themselves to the top of the charts. In particular, their highly virtuosic and sophisticated coloratura, and a recording of high instrumental vivacity mark this remarkable summit of Monteverdian interpretation. The group of soloists, of the first order in terms of style and expressive intensity, distinguishes itself in particular by its artistic interpretation of the text in terms of declamation, and delights in its unaffected emotions through its dramatic vocal demonstrations and incredible sonic beauty. From biting anger to false flattery, from plaintive nostalgia to gross trickery, from moving tenderness to unconditional devotion, we listen to this mythic opera on the edge of our seats.
Ingobert Waltenberger, 9 juillet 2022, Online Merker
Stéphane Fuget’s direction, while he adds sensitive and precise interventions on the harpsichord, designs the phrases, the energy and intention with suppleness. His right index finger brings precision while his left hand controls the balance. The four instrumentalists of Les Epopées caress their accompaniment, with balance and above all subtle colour.
Emmanuel Deroeux, 27 mars 2022, Olyrix
Stéphane Fuget animates his troops by concentrating more on phrase and expression than on the simple tactus (tempo). He imitates the violin’s vibrato when he wants more intensity, sweeps expansive arm gestures for more ample phrasing and points to the sky for sharp precision.
Frédérique Epin, 22 mars 2022, Olyrix
‘The Storm’ by Hortense de Beauharnais (1783 - 1837) carried us to the summit of descriptive music, which Stéphane Fuget’s piano inflamed. [...] Each time, Claire Lefilliatre wove a sensitive atmosphere, with her enchanting voice, rich with harmonics. She adores this repertoire, resuscitates it, makes it live and vibrate.
Marc Dumont, 10 mars 2022, Première Loge
Only a few centuries after the fact, Stéphane Fuget and his Epopées have appropriated these qualities like no other ensemble today in this repertoire. The meaning of musical discourse is here taken to its highest level. The intertextuality of each moment (the music serving the text and vice versa) emanates from an interpretation of the sacred texts, which far from reducing these motets to a single theatrical gesture reveals on the contrary the entire spiritual palette.
Stefan Wandriesse, 7 mars 2022, BaroquiadeS
Immediately, the orchestra impresses with its rich colours and the depth of its sonic impact. The violinists, incisive, lead the dance. [...] The voices, the contrasts, the silences, and the resurgences never cease to maintain our interest and surprise. [...] A sparkling vision of life full of peps . Far from Versailles pomp, Stéphane Fuget paints a dramatic picture of these works where the text guides the music and emotions. And although there is never a moment, not a note in the score left to chance, it is the unaffected interpretation which strikes us and carries us along.
Marc Dumont, 17 janvier 2022, Première Loge
Amongst the choir there are soloists of the first rank : Claire Lefilliâtre, Ambroisine Bré, Cyril Auvity, Marc Mauillon, Renaud Delaigue, Marco Angioloni…whose varying temperaments express the nuances and the individuality of the assembled believers, required by conductor Fuget’s goldsmith sensibility. This vivid incarnation distinguishes their approach from all preceding versions : collective yes, but also a reunion of fervent believers whose personal and intimate ardour expresses emotion in the duos, the languishing trios and the collective bursts, rhythmically intrusive, as if crashing in, which follow them… A remarkable range of Lullyist and Versaillailaise fervour.
Alban Deags, 30 décembre 2021, Classiquenews
Daring tempo variations within one number, pauses at the malevolence of another….to arrive, just before the finale, at a off-stage maritime-celestial chorus of stratospheric beauty… Stéphane Fuget, attentive to the smallest inflection, orchestral or vocal, has succeeded in laying polite listening to rest…
Jean-Luc Clairet, 28 July 2021, ResMusica
Prima le parole : the recitative is at the heart of the drama, following natural speech rhythms and supported by a rejuvenating continuo. The beauty of language is restored. Its articulation, its accents, its colours, its phrases and inflections are close to an ideal.
This production - exemplary - marks a new era in the rich history of recording. The expression is entirely true, achieved with exceptional care.
Yvan Beuvard, 27 July 2021, Forumopera
Prima la musica ? Prime le parole ? With the fantastic Return of Ulysses presented by Beaune Festival on Saturday 24th July, we had both, and superbly! Despite the absence of any staging, we indeed had the impression that we were witnessing a veritable theatrical experience. The reason being, paradoxically, that the music offered was of the highest dramatic level.
Stéphane Lelièvre, 27 July 2021, Première Loge
Stéphane Fuget’s vast experience as a harpsichordist, before turning his hand to direction, is evident in the maniacal care with which he works with the singers. His interpretation places the text at the forefront, leaving no inflection to chance. He is supported by a first-class cast of singers, who are at one with ’recitar cantando’, where singing becomes synonymous with theatrical declamation.
Christian Merlin, 26 July 2021, Le Figaro
At his first appearance at the Beaune Festival, Stéphane Fuget hits hard. He has joyfully renewed the approach to Venetian drama per musica. A sparkling distribution and a direction entirely faithful to composer Monteverdi’s intentions, such as you have never heard before… an unmitigated success.
Jean-François Lattarico, 24 July 2021, Classiquenews
It’s as if we are hearing this aria for the first time. With exceptional poetic dignity, nearing on submission, the music gives the illusion of unfolding of its own accord…
These two hours stand out as among the most rich in a festival dedicated to the highest level of baroque vocal music.
Jean-Philippe Grosperrin, 24 July 2021, Diapason
CRESCENDO MAGAZINE, WILD CARD
First installment in Lully’s complete motets : a diamond in the rough.
The orchestra dares an outrageous textural richness, thanks largely to a sparkling continuo…. Best not to look for the bar lines, but instead let yourself be led by disorientation, sfumato (the orchestral prologues), a mingling of the senses. The more subdued passages (exite nostris cordibus) underline all the more this expressive, even sensationalist, interpretation…
An impressive attention to detail avoids falling into confusion, and inscribes each astounding effect, so much so that we risk an overdose of portamenti, sighs and hockets when we put the disc away. Yet, beneath the microscopic attention to detail and the dramatic flair, Stéphane Fuget unites each motet with a prodigious sense of continuity…. For if this album has one virtue, it is to banish indifference and mark a new territory. It is impossible to resist this splendour, which isn’t relying on conventional ceremony, but instead is forged through its own unique filters. There is a type of distillation at work - we don’t know if the result is the summit of natural interpretation or of total affectation. Both are united in a singular eloquence, animated from within, appropriating Lully’s sincere faith and cooking up a profoundly imaginative result.
Christophe Steyne, 11 June 2021, Crescendo Magazine
[...] an unprecedented shake-up in the interpretation of these grandiose pages. [...] Stéphane Fuget remains painstakingly faithful to the score, whether in terms of the large effective he employs, instrumental and vocal practices (step out soloists from the choir), illustrating the art of dynamic range, ornamentation that provides myriad effects yet is always in support of the expression of each moment. [...] the words are sculpted, chiselled with silversmith skill [...] And so here is a sumptuous interpretation, served by a generous effective (absolutely necessary for Lully's music, conceived for an exceptional budget), masterfully directed without fault. It is, in my point of view, one of the greatest recordings ever devoted to this composer. And if my admiration knows no bounds, it is because here the musical experience is upheld by the spiritual experience, which instils these works with their full depth of meaning!
BaroquiadeS, 17th April 2021, Stefan Wandriesse
[...] We underline in particular the remarkable work of Stéphane Fuget and Les Epopées: the conductor's choice of instrumentation creates a dense sound, with a solid continuo, and offers rich, expressive opportunities of which the orchestra takes full advantage.
Wanderer 29th March 2021, Claire-Marie Caussin
Stéphane Fuget's detailed approach brings accomplished panache to these grandiose and moving works, with expressive and rich colours. The music seemed to provide a sonorous mirror to the coloured frescos, dazzled by the sun's rays that majestically ornament the Chapel of Versailles. Whether for the benefit of the thirty or so musicians or the choir, Stéphane Fuget leads through expressive breath, animating the musical discourse with generous caresses or, inversely, with precise indication. [...] The generous expressive palette exhibited by the lyric Company is made possible thanks to an unfailing pursuit of homogeneity. This despite the fact that the choir is constituted partly by solo singers, each performing their lines, whether all together, in small groups or alone: Marc Mauillon's fervent declamation answers the deep, solemn voice of Frédéric Caton; Clément Debieuvre's clear tone resounds with the warm expressivity of Vlad Crosman or Cyril Auvity's articulated and proud phrases. Among the women, mezzo-soprano Ambroisine Bré charms with her intense timbre, especially in the low notes, and her expressive text. Claire Lefilliâtre is equally convincing with her precise diction and her rounded timbre decorated by a vibrato that serves her interpretation. Another moment to appreciate was the confident and fresh intervention of the young soprano Jeanne Lefort.
Olyrix, 9th Mars 2021, Emmanuel Deroeux
A blessing for all baroque amateurs, this album bears witness to the originality and vitality of a formation which reveals as a lie the generally received ideas of many French baroque ensembles today... [...] A rex tremendae where the affect of the choir literally pierces through us, bearing witness to Stéphane Fuget's rich imagination for ornaments.
La Figaro, 2nd March 2021, Thierry Hillériteau
The exalted tension of the ornaments is at its summit and we hold our breath. [...] After an unprecedentedly intense harmonic progression, the music rises towards the light in a blinding fortissimo. Next we note the beautiful soprano solo, Quia apud te propitiatio est, masterfully sung by Claire Le filliâtre. [...] It only remains for me to express my admiration for Stéphane Fuget's passionate direction. The sight of all those eyes turned towards his hands and his face, (...) clearly showed that this ensemble of virtuosi, numerous and varied, was singing with one voice.
BaroquiadeS, 29th November 2020, Pierre Benveniste
Here, Stéphane Fuget, inhabiting each instant makes all the richness and flesh of the instrumental timbres sound. He produces heart-breaking sonority from his orchestra in the overture to O Lachrymae, then diaphonous tones in the magnificent recorder trio which precedes and then merges into O Fons amoris. He is more than supported by the ensemble of soloists, among whom the names still little known of Lucy Page, Benoît Arnould, Luc Bertin Hugaud (and many others who should all be listed), shine no less brightly than those of Claire Lefilliâtre, Marc Mauilon, Marie Perbost or Cyril Auvity. It is no coincidence that each member of the choir performs a solo line at some point, making this restitution a truly shared enterprise. And we see and hear the result: with unfailing concentration, each musician and each singer lives this by making it their own. [...] It is this that strikes us most in this vertiginous interpretation: it is astounding. It pierces to the heart.
Première loge, 2nd November 2020, Marc Dumont
The soprano Claire Lefilliâtre was a new discovery for the audience, dazzling interpreter of the works of Italian Renaissance composers.
Yonne Républicaine, 13th June 2018