A lyric and choreographic drama in 2 acts after the novel by Pierre Benoît of the Académie Française with music by Henri Tomasi / libretto by Francis Didelot
"The composer Henri Tomasi and the librettist Francis Didelot qualify l’Atlantide as a lyric and choreographic drama. The primary outcome of this choice was the singular transcription of the role of Antinéa by the academician Pierre Benoit making her a descendent of Neptune: a goddess, she doesn’t speak the language of men. By an audacious pirouette, she dances and everything is expressed through song and dance!
Antinéa - please excuse the expression - is a mature woman, as evidenced by the number of lovers she has had for a few weeks to several months. Examining this question, I met with Anne Martin, the contemporary heroine of works by Pina Bausch for 12 years. What is it about her? Enveloped by an aura that is as strong as it is calm, she imposes herself in silence. What could one hope for more in a queen? To be beautiful perhaps? She is, superb! As are the 15 artists on stage by her side. Men, four singers and eight dancers embody Tuareg, demons or military-explorers frozen in front of four women. Two twin maidservants and a princess-slave surround the first: Antinéa. For the choreography, the company unites eleven dancers. Heard today, Henri Tomasi’s music for this opera immediately evokes the middle of the 20th century. Tense recitatives leave little room for timid arias, with accents of film music, jazz phrasing… the sound belongs to the modern era whereas the form, alternating between scenes and musical interludes, seems older.
Also, with Henri Gallois conducting the Philharmonic Orchestra of the Opéra de Marseille, we have, in a desire for fluidity, opted for short interludes, often accompanying scenic changes in full view as a corollary to the theme of mazes simultaneously employed as an artifice for the flow from one scene to another: a ritualistic means of approaching the emblematic location - Antinea’s room - and finally, as a parable of the mind losing itself."
Michel Kelemenis, october 2000
6 oct. 2000
Just like Hernani, l’Atlantide, a modern opera by Henri Tomasi, is controversial. There are pros and cons. The cons ridicule the flat staging, the B-movie music, the lethargic conducting, the strained voices, the amateur dancing and trivial sets. The pros extol the lyric and modern music on a very difficult score masterfully conducted by Henry Gallois, the intelligent staging by Michel Kelemenis who gives equal consideration to the ballet, which is enhanced by the presence of Anne Martin and the singers, among whom the divine Inva Mula, singers who put their vocal chords on stage in a desert setting reduced to its simplest expression animated only by light, but in the Sahara only the light counts.
For or against L’Atlantide, art is not an exact science, but thanks to the Ahaggar winds Tomasi brought with him, a new air blew over opera.