French actress Marion Cotillard plays Joan of Arc in a new production of Arthur Honneger's Joan at the Stake (Jeanne d'Arc au Bûcher) today on medici tv.This will be interesting as the piece requires a very strong personality indeed in the title role. Don't judge the piece by the Barbican performance last year which was curiously inert despite the magnificence of the score. No wonder people who didn't know the piece didn't like it. A good performance requires a good actress to ignite.....oops. Watch what Ingrid Bergman brings to the part in the 1954 filmed version of Honneger's masterpiece. The brilliant orchestration gets upstaged by her amazing performance. Read more here
Honegger's Jeanne d'Arc is oratorio as psychodrama. In these final moments of Joan's life she thinks back on how she's arrived at the stake. The raging mob screams around her. She's shaven, in sack cloth but for the presence of her Confessor, who doesn't really understand. But she's not alone for at the criical moment, her voices return, and she's taken up to heaven. The orchestration is amazing - ondes martenot, saxophone, huge string section. The prelude, added in 1944 during the German Occupation, sets the piece in wider context. This magnificent orchestration frames the role of Joan, She's a simple peasant girl who does extraordinary things. Significantly, Joan is not a singing part.
Read about Carl Th Dreyers silent movie The S Passion of Joan of Arc HERE, and about Walter Braunfels Scenes from the life of Joan of Arc, a neglected wonder, HERE. .