— At the Festival

Published on October 4 2019

HOMAGE TO JESSYE NORMAN

Ariane a Naxos, 1985 - Jessye Norman © Henry Ely
© Henry Ely
It was with great sadness that the Festival d’Aix-en-Provence team learned of Jessye Norman’s death on September 30, 2019.

With her powerful and versatile voice—allowing her to perform both dramatic soprano and contralto parts—, her great stature, and her rare charisma, this American cantatrice was an extremely distinctive figure in the world of opera. Her fame exceeded the genre, especially in the 1980s, when she was a regular guest on mainstream television shows. During that same decade, she made her mark at the Festival d’Aix, when she performed in two productions that members of the audience still remember today. In 1983, she played Phèdre, with all her mythical glory, in Rameau’s Hippolyte et Aricie, staged by Pier Luigi Pizzi and directed by John Eliot Gardiner. In 1985, she returned to the stage at the Archevêché in the title role of Strauss’s Ariadne auf Naxos. She also performed in concerts at the festival, most notably in 1977, 1978 and 1984. Many discs and a few videos have captured the memory of her immense voice and her extraordinary silhouette, which made Jessye Norman the ultimate diva of the late twentieth century.

VIDEO REPORT ON THE PRODUCTION OF HIPPOLYTE ET ARICIE IN 1985 AT THE FESTIVAL D'AIX