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A new musical world

The unique world of the French singer Patricia Petibon surprises with its unpredictability, entertains the audience thanks to its whimsical nature and intimidates with its freedom. The artist's performance was the crowning conclusion of the finale of the Opera Rara Festival. Petibon, who made a name for herself as a performer of French Baroque music, is an interesting and unconventional figure in the opera world, who unleashes her full potential on stage. The ensemble La Cetra Barockorchester, which specialises in historical performance, accompanied her on international music stages. The musicians – famous for their spontaneous, fresh and contemporary approach to old music – brought a new life to the music from the past and gave it a whole new dimension.

Baroque arias and old songs from distant lands

The artist picked up a bold selection of arias from French Baroque opera, English masque and Spanish zarzuela, which comprised the main part of the concert programme, juxtaposing them with traditional songs from Peru, France and the British Isles. In addition to the classic “Greensleves” tune, we had the opportunity to hear compositions by Jean Philippe Rameau, Henry Purcell, Marc-Antoin Charpentier and George Frideric Handel. The juxtaposition of solemn arias with Peruvian melodies and free Spanish zarzuela performed by Petibon and La Cetra Barockorchester, was surprising at first, but turned out to be a cohesive, colourful and very lively programme, and the seemingly distant musical and stylistic words all joined together into a colourful panorama. The performers, who enjoyed both the music they played, as well as the fact that they were playing together, captivated and delighted the audience with their imagination and stage energy.

The colourful sounds of the musical New World – Nouveau Monde – filled the Cloth Hall thanks to the variety of interesting instruments, including bagpipes, theorbo, harpsichord and strings, and their sound was complemented by Petibon’s dynamic, dramatic soprano. The programme of the concert featured vocal pieces interwoven with instrumental fragments performed by La Cetra Barockorchester with certain style and expression. Together with the ensemble, the singer has brought about an extraordinary world with no stylistic, sound, historical or even geographical boundaries.

Elemental power on stage

Petibon’s performance was truly unconventional – the artist wore colourful glasses, the musicians put on masks and feathered wings, and used plush mascots of a fox and a hare to illustrate the melody of “J’ai vu le loup, le renard, le lièvre.” Other enjoyable elements included songs imitating the sounds of animals and birds from exotic countries far beyond. Spontaneous and cavalier, Petibon emphasised the performed pieces with balanced dance and gestures; while combining jokes, great entertainment and certain panache with daring singing. Petibon knows how to use her voice to produce all the tones and shades in order to give her melodies a certain glow and meaning, depending on their lyrics and the context of the work. The singer also surprised the audience with her even, strong voice in low registers, quite unusual for a coloratura soprano.

Patricia Petibon is an extremely expressive, charismatic artist who is outstanding at dealing with the audience. Her Krakow performance was a clear example showing that one can build a bridge between traditional music from different countries, as well as high art, all while having fun – especially when the energy and joy of the performing musicians is shared with the audience they enthral and enchant together.

It was a perfect and strong finale of this year’s edition of the festival – filled with beautiful songs, joyful carnival entertainment and artistic impressions.

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