Performance Wednesday, March 12, 2014 | 8 PM

Natalie Dessay
Philippe Cassard

Stern Auditorium / Perelman Stage
French soprano Natalie Dessay is one of the biggest stars of today's operatic world, thrilling audiences as both a singer and an actress in her dramatic portrayal of some of the most well-known heroines in the genre. In her New York recital debut, the coloratura focuses on the rich German romanticism of Clara Schumann, Brahms, and Richard Strauss, as well as French songs by Debussy, Duparc, Poulenc, and Fauré. The New York Times wrote of her, “Every vocal phrase is impelled by the emotion and dramatic intention of the moment.”


  • Natalie Dessay, Soprano
    New York Recital Debut
  • Philippe Cassard, Piano


  • C. SCHUMANN "Liebst du um Schönheit"
  • C. SCHUMANN "Geheimes Flüstern"
  • C. SCHUMANN "Sie liebten sich beide"
  • C. SCHUMANN "Er ist gekommen"
  • BRAHMS "Lerchengesang"
  • BRAHMS "Meine Lieder"
  • BRAHMS "Geheimnis"
  • DUPARC "L'invitation au voyage"
  • DUPARC "Extase"
  • R. STRAUSS "Ich schwebe," Op. 48, No. 2
  • R. STRAUSS "Wasserrose," Op. 22, No. 4
  • R. STRAUSS "Frühlingsgedränge," Op. 26, No. 1
  • R. STRAUSS "Die Nacht," Op. 10, No. 3
  • FAURÉ "Après un rêve," Op. 7, No. 1
  • FAURÉ "Clair de lune," Op. 46, No. 2
  • FAURÉ "Prison," Op. 83, No. 1
  • FAURÉ "Mandoline" from Cinq mélodies "de Venise," Op. 58, No. 1
  • FAURÉ "En sourdine" from Cinq mélodies "de Venise," Op. 58, No. 2
  • POULENC Fiançailles pour rire
  • DEBUSSY "Apparition"
  • DEBUSSY "La romance d'Ariel"

  • Encores:
  • DEBUSSY CLAUDE DEBUSSY "Clair de lune" from Suite bergamasque / "Clair de lune," from Fêtes galantes
  • RACHMANINOFF "How Fair This Spot," Op. 21, No. 7
  • DELIBES "Tu m'as donné le plus doux rêve" from Lakmé


  • Natalie Dessay

    From Paris to Vienna, Natalie Dessay has performed Mozart (The Queen of Night in Die Zauberflöte, Konstanze in Die Entführung aus dem Serail) and Richard Strauss (Zerbinetta in Ariadne auf Naxos, Sophie in Der Rosenkavalier, Aminta in Die schweigsame Frau); but she made her debut with French repertoire, singing Olympia in Offenbach's Les contes d'Hoffmann at the Opéra national de Paris and the title role in Delibes's Lakmé at the Opéra Comique.

    Ms. Dessay has sung the title role in Stravinsky's Le rossignol at the Théâtre du Châtelet and in Berlin; Ophelia (Thomas's Hamlet) at the Grand Théâtre de Genève, Le Capitole de Toulouse, Théâtre du Châtelet, Royal Opera House in Covent Garden, and Gran Teatre del Liceu in Barcelona; and Zerbinetta (Ariadne auf Naxos) at the Metropolitan Opera in New York and Opéra national de Paris.

    Ms. Dessay also sings bel canto roles, such as Amina (Bellini's La sonnambula) at the Opéra de Lausanne, Opéra de Paris, Opéra national de Bordeaux, La Scala in Milan, and Santa Fe Opera; and the title role in both the French and Italian versions of Donizetti's Lucia di Lammermoor at the Opéra de Lyon, Théâtre des Champs-Élysées, Lyric Opera of Chicago, Metropolitan Opera, and in Moscow conducted by Valery Gergiev.

    She has performed Massenet's Manon in San Francisco, Chicago, Paris, Geneva, Barcelona, and Toulouse; Mélisande (Debussy's Pelléas et Mélisande) in Glasgow and at the Theater an der Wien; Juliette (Gounod's Roméo et Juliette) at the Metropolitan Opera; Pamina (Die Zauberflöte) in Santa Fe; Marie (Donizetti's La fille du régiment) in London, Vienna, New York, and Paris; Musetta (Puccini's La bohème) and Cleopatra (Handel's Giulio Cesare) at the Opéra de Paris and Metropolitan Opera; Verdi's La traviata in Santa Fe, Japan, Aix-en-Provence, Vienna, and New York; and Les contes d'Hoffmann in Barcelona and San Francisco.

    Ms. Dessay has been appointed as Kammersängerin by the Vienna State Opera.

    More Info

  • Philippe Cassard

    Philippe Cassard has established an international reputation as concerto soloist, recitalist, and chamber musician since giving a joint recital with Christa Ludwig in Paris in 1985. The same year, he was finalist at the Concours Clara Haskil, and in 1988, he won first prize at the Dublin International Piano Competition.

    Mr. Cassard has performed as soloist with the London Philharmonic Orchestra, City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, BBC Philharmonic, BBC National Orchestra of Wales, Orchestre National de France, and many more. He has worked with many conductors, including Sir Neville Marriner, Jeffrey Tate, Vladimir Fedoseyev, Yan Pascal Tortelier, Raymond Leppard, Charles Dutoit, Armin Jordan, Marek Janowski, Emmanuel Krivine, and Thierry Fischer.

    Mr. Cassard's performance of the complete piano works of Debussy (four recitals in a single day)-presented in London (Wigmore Hall), Dublin, Paris, Lisbon, Sydney, Singapore, and Tokyo-received extremely enthusiastic press and media coverage. Released by Decca, the collected was awarded the Grand Prix du Disque in 1994.

    As a chamber musician, Mr. Cassard has appeared with such artists as Wolfgang Holzmair, Paul Meyer, David Grimal, Anne Gastinel, Matt Haimovitz, and Isabelle Faust; as well as with the Ebène, Modigliani, Takács, Auryn, Vanbrugh, Danish, and Chilingirian string quartets.

    His recording of Schumann's Humoreske, Op. 20, and Fantasiestücke, Op. 12, was named Editor's Choice by Gramophone. Mr. Cassard's other releases (Schubert's Impromptus and Brahms's Klavierstücke, Op. 116-119) have been received very warmly. In 2012, Mr. Cassard and Ms. Dessay recorded an album of Debussy songs on Virgin Classics.

    Mr. Cassard served as artistic director of the Nuits Romantiques du Lac du Bourget festival from 1999 to 2008, and since 2005, he has presented more than 300 live programs dedicated to piano interpretation on France Musique Radio. He has written an essay on Schubert and a book on cinema and music.

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Debussy's "Apparition"
Natalie Dessay, Soprano | Philippe Cassard, Piano
Virgin Classics

At a Glance

Natalie Dessay's program mixes German lieder with the chansons of the four greatest French songwriters of the 19th and 20th centuries: Fauré, Debussy, Duparc, and Poulenc. Though we are used to hearing the songs of Robert Schumann, we rarely have the opportunity to discover those of his wife. In an era when women did not dare display their creative talent, Clara Schumann was supported by her husband in her composing; he even co-published her songs alongside his own. Moreover, she played a major role in the compositions of Johannes Brahms, who claimed that most of his best melodies were owed to her inspiration and advice.

Perhaps even more than the Germans, French songwriters molded their work on the sounds, sense, and declamation of the words. In this they were aided by the Symbolist poets of the late-19th century, whose verse frequently emphasized the sonorities of words in preference to their meanings. Ms. Dessay has chosen songs to verse by three of the leading Symbolists: Baudelaire, Mallarmé, and Verlaine. She will also sing the elusive poems of Louise de Vilmorin in Fiançailles pour rire, Francis Poulenc's sly and haunting tribute to a friend isolated by World War II.
Program Notes


Natalie Dessay on Becoming a Singer

Natalie Dessay on the Art of Recital

Natalie Dessay on Working with Philippe Cassard

This performance is part of Great Singers I, and Vocal and Piano.