Classical Review: Le Malade Imaginaire

Marc-Antoine Charpentier’s opera Le Malade Imaginaire was rescued from oblivion in an abridged, semi-staged version by the Jerusalem Baroque Orchestra.

March 31, 2012 21:37
1 minute read.
SASSON GABAI in ‘The Imaginary Valid.’

SASSON GABAI in ‘The Imaginary Valid.’. (photo credit: Einav Shemer)


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Marc-Antoine Charpentier’s opera Le Malade Imaginaire, less well-known than Moliere’s comedy, was rescued from oblivion in an abridged, semi-staged version by the Jerusalem Baroque Orchestra, conducted by David Shemer.

Moliere may consider himself fortunate for having Charpentier as the composer who set his text to music, because he shared with him a similar kind of delicate humor. Charpentier, whose sacred music sounds uncompromisingly solemn, can serve as a model of humor in music when leaving the church and writing secular works.

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Effectively conceived echo responses, unexpected melodic dialogues between orchestra and singers and unorthodox sound effects such as of handbells in the orchestra are only some of the humorous touches in this so-called “Comedie-Ballet.”

Actor Sasson Gabai’s clownish antics were mildly amusing, though more Israel-style blunt than French-style subtle. Anat Edri, Carmit Nathan and Ofra Hurvitz-Znati displayed lovely soprano voices, though rather too thin for the dimensions of the Henry Crown Hall.

The “Ballet” was suggested rather than actually danced, but in all fairness that’s to be expected from singers who went through the motions just as elegantly as their song teachers may, or perhaps may not, have taught them.

The orchestra sounded reasonable and well-rehearsed.

All in all, the high-expectations-arousing advertisements had promised rather more than was in fact delivered.

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