Francine Labelle, soprano
I should have been a cello player. Tonight’s first performance of the French Baroque Christmas series reminded me that I need to go through my closet and find the comfiest shoes in my extensive collection. Indeed, we get to stand on our feet for a long time in this concert. That’s why I envy all cellists. Mind you, I don’t have to buy an extra seat for my instrument when I travel; so, the quest for comfortable footwear continues. The problem, you see, is that the shoes also have to be somewhat stylish. I am convinced that I sing better if I look good (welcome to the world of paranoid sopranos). This also explains why my husband sometimes calls me Imelda.
So the first performance of the French Baroque Christmas went quite well, I feel. Now, I’m home with my numb toes and the usual post-concert adrenaline overload. Bring on the crossword puzzles.
I sure hope the audience revelled as much in this delicious music as we did. But while on stage, I was also thinking of how tricky it can be. There is a fine line between refinement and affectation. While striving to deliver this music with all the grace and elegance it deserves, one must show a bit of restraint to keep it dignified. La modération a bien meilleur goût (yes, I just borrowed the French slogan from LCBO). The danger with this music is to try too hard to make it refined, to the point of becoming maniéré. I believe we are all aware of this, and I hope the results speak for themselves. Charpentier’s music is the epitome of finesse. So, less is more.
I enjoy listening to music, but making it is different. It’s a little bit like cooking – an appropriate figure de style for an organization called Tafelmusik! I like the cooking process because it allows me to be creative, and infuse the food with a little bit of my own personality. Making music is no different. And tonight, we concocted this musical menu with love and care, using Charpentier’s recipe and blending in our own ingredients. And there’s nothing we love more than sharing it with other music lovers.
Yet, I sometimes wish I could trade places with members of the audience so that they could experience the music from where I stand. To be ‘inside’ of it, almost in the middle of the orchestra... To feel the stage shaking when all the strings play the fast and furious opening of ‘Why do the nations’ from Messiah. (I am fast-forwarding to next week). What a thrill! So once in a while, if I look distracted or misty-eyed, fear not: I am just having a small epiphany, realizing how lucky I am to be singing with this group.
To learn more about the French Baroque Christmas Programme and to purchase tickets, please click here!