World premiere opera
Libretto by Raphaèle Fleury based on Paul Claudel’s work
Staging by Célie Pauthe
Music by Philippe Leroux

Raphaële Kennedy | Violaine Vercors
Sophia Burgos | Mara Vercors
Els Janssens Vanmunster | Elisabeth Vercors
Marc Scoffoni | Anne Vercors
Charles Rice | Jacques Hury
Vincent Bouchot | Pierre de Craon
Ensemble Cairn
Guillaume Bourgogne | musical direction
Rémi Durupt | assistant to the musical director
Solène Souriau | staging assistance
Guillaume Delaveau | scenography
Carlo Laurenzi | Ircam electronics
Clément Cerles | Ircam sound diffusion
Anaïs Romand | costumes
Sébastien Michaud | lighting
François Weber | images
Denis Loubaton | dramaturgy
Angers Nantes Opéra | set construction and costume making

For his first opera, the composer Philippe Leroux has set his sights on an authentic « mystery »: this is how L’Annonce faite à Marie, described by Paul Claudel as a « drama of the possession of a soul by the supernatural », is presented. Paul Claudel, whose work is inseparable from his Christian faith, revisits the figure of the Virgin. Following a chaste farewell kiss given to a guest of her father, the wise Violaine contracts leprosy. Recluse in a leper colony and rejected by all, she will nonetheless forgive the offences of those who have disowned her. One Christmas Eve, she performs miracles – starting with giving life to a newborn baby, the daughter of a sister who hates her and a former fiancé who has left her. In this drama, writes director Célie Pauthe, « desire for elevation and wild impulses, flesh and spirit, heaven and earth engage in a hand-to-hand combat seeking to synthesise, the quest for a life and a work ». Philippe Leroux and Célie Pauthe wanted to summon Claudel himself to the stage. The former by recreating his voice, which, as melodic as it is rough, blends in at times with that of the performers, the latter by plunging the drama back into his native Tardenois. Thus the playwright is there, engaging in a secret dialogue with his characters, like a spectre watching over them, if not benevolent. In this score, both intimate and dizzying, the composer brings to life what Claudel called an « opera of words », a dialogue between drama and poetry, between sound and meaning, between voice and breath.

Raphaële Kennedy is the very embodiment of Violaine, physically and vocally, seeming to do whatever she wants with her incredibly plastic voice, even in the high register.
Le Figaro, Christian Merlin, 2022

[…] In the first place, it is the soprano Raphaële Kennedy who commands admiration, because she portrays a particularly moving Violaine Vercors, but even more so because she reproduces, with almost no respite during the two and a half hours of the show, the details that abound in her part – microtonal intonation, nuances, changes in timbre during the performance – without ever compromising the fluidity or the momentum of her role.
Avant Scène Opéra, Pierre Rigaudière, 2022

Raphaële Kennedy leads Violaine from youthful energy to the breath of death with an unwavering vocal and stage presence […].
Jean-Guillaume Lebrun, La Terrasse, 2022

[…], let us mention the performance of the remarkable Raphaële Kennedy. If the vocal part of her interpretation leaves us speechless, her theatrical dimension is truly breathtaking and during the meeting with her sister in act three, she reaches heights of dramatic intensity that leave the entire audience frozen in amazement and admiration.
Unidivers, Thierry Martin, 2022

[…] Violaine, the saintly and sacrificial sister, finds in Raphaële Kennedy an interpretation – or rather, an intercession – that is strikingly accurate, energetic and emotional: an extraordinary first role with a starry vocal range, which takes her from a very young, whimsical woman to a pietà already in heaven.
ConcertClassic, Didier Lamare, 2022

The first interventions of Violaine (fabulous Raphaële Kennedy), between mischievous glissandi and high-pitched thrusts, describe better than words the candour of the character, her absolute sincerity.
Télérama, Sophie Bourdais, 2022

Violaine’s text, which at the beginning sounds like a chatterbox, can be crushed with childish mischief or it can be a genuine lament. The duets are impressive, especially the one in the last act that pits raging instinct (Sophia Burgos’ convulsive Mara) against mystical faith (Raphaële Kennedy’s hallucinated Violaine).
Le Monde, Pierre Gervasoni, 2022

It is a Violaine full of vitality – Raphaële Kennedy is breathtaking – who expresses herself in the first exchanges with Pierre de Craon, juggling with the syllables, in the interplay of phonemes, on the ascending momentum of her singing, accelerating or slowing down the flow: a relationship to the text that is as free as it is adventurous, which avoids any pathos and which Philippe Leroux likes to maintain, in the plasticity of the sung lines and the interaction of the instrumental playing. [Her] jubilant high notes and the agility of her voice, which is in demand throughout the opera, are marvellous […].
Res Musica, Michèle Tosi, 2022

Armed with an impeccable vocal technique, the soprano navigates from the sharpest high notes of the playful and amorous young woman […] to the painful and dramatic accents of illness and agony.
Toute La Culture, Angélique Dascier, 2022

Raphaële Kennedy plays an intense Violaine, who goes from the will-o’-the-wisp of love to the radiance of a blind but awake being. The emission […] is remarkably natural, never forced, just like the unity of the timbre despite the multiple colours required […].
Forumopera, Tania Bracq, 2022

Faced with such inventive vocal writing, the singers reveal the emotions of the characters with tremendous truth : Raphaële Kennedy’s luminous and mysterious Violaine.
Opera Online, Laurent Vilarem, 2022


World premiere sound experience
Music by Bertrand Wolff

Bertrand Wolff | composer
Raphaële Kennedy | soprano
Isabelle Deproit | contralto
Guillaume Stagnaro | robotic design
Alexandre Martre | lighting creation

Auscúltare is a mixed time piece for two voices and ultra-directional loudspeakers (3° opening) fixed on 4 motorised feet allowing them to move (vertically and horizontally). An arduino interface allows the writing of these movements (via the MIDI protocol). The process consists in superimposing the voice with synthetic sounds, in such a way that the human voice completes, imitates and extends the recordings in an intention to question the relationship between nature and culture. The aim is to create a mimetic relationship between the human voice and sound synthesis in an acoustic environment. The composition questions the links between the human voice and sound environments. The synthetic sounds, diffused by the four ultra-directional loudspeakers, act here as a necessary counterpoint to the perception of acoustic spaces.

A sound that is no longer measurable by hearing. As if the sound that surpasses us on all sides were the space that matures.
Rainer Maria Rilke, Distant Song


Music by Kaija Saariaho and Jean-Baptiste Barrière
Visual conception and realisation by Jean-Baptiste Barrière

Aliisa Neige Barrière | violon
Camilla Hoitenga | flutes
Raphaële Kennedy | voice
Jean-Baptiste Barrière | design and realisation of the images, electronics realisation
Pierre-Jean Bouyer, François Galard | video processing
Isabelle Barrière | cameras and video control
Thomas Goepfer | electronics realisation

Sensory correspondences, displacement of the imagination, reversal of perspectives: it is to a similar experience that ekstasis invites you, built by sound and image around six works by Kaija Saariaho and Jean-Baptiste Barrière. The complementarity of their creative paths, living together and often working in the same way, draws the quite precise organization of the work presented. Prima la musica, dopo la visione… The three works of Kaija Saariaho are musical compositions, sound constructions, acoustic and electronic, pre-existing the vision of her husband. The three pieces by Jean-Baptiste Barrière were conceived as multimedia works, and first of all for the visual concert, with lines and rhythms that are perhaps more direct, leaving open spaces to receive the images.
Didier Lamare

This concert/show, with its visual dimension which is closely linked to the continuity of my writing, proposes […] a path, a crossing of my work, and testifies in an original way to my musical career.
Kaija Saariaho

Above all, the image must not prevent from listening to the music […]. It should not be placed on the music, or on the contrary illustrate the music. Neither should it proceed from the commentary on or around the music. It must thus be realized through its own writing, formally articulated with the musical writing, proceeding from the same ideas or techniques of composition, but developed in another sensitive dimension, without pleonasm nor arbitrary antagonism, in dynamic and evolutionary interaction. […] In this program, the music unfolds in the image, one becomes the extension of the other.
Jean-Baptiste Barrière

A sensory journey that accompanies a music that is just as much.
Le soir, Gaëlle Moury, 2019

[…] The three works by each composer have the same propensity for intimate confidence. Saariaho’s works (written in the 1990s) show an exceptional quality of deployment. Nocturne’s spidery weave, NoaNoa’s spatialized amplification and Lonh’s enchanting revolutions. More recent (2003-2014), those of Barrière (the twirling Crossing the Blind Forest, the bewitching Violance and the penetrating Ekstasis) reveal a taste for the projection of the vocal or instrumental gesture which, […] ensures that the musician doubles as an authentic stage director.
Le Monde, Pierre Gervasoni, 2019

Three musicians are united here: the flutist Camilla Hoitenga, faithful to the mazes of the two composers; the violinist Aliisa Neige Barrière, their daughter, whose physical and musical presence diffuses a venomous enchantment; the soprano Raphaële Kennedy, in an embodiment with a silver tip that imposes, in our opinion, the reference versions of the two vocal pieces.
L. L., 2019

It was fascinating to hear what a well-balanced whole the two composers’ respective works produced. […] the two composers share many features in common, in particular their ability to structure multiple narrative layers at once and their simultaneous perception of past, present and future. At the heart of this is their unflinching belief in the relevance of modern art and its expressive powers. […] The soprano Raphaële Kennedy had perfectly internalised the worlds of Saariaho’s Lonh and Barrière’s Ekstasis.
Aamulehti, Harri Hautala, 2021

Ekstasis was also an opportunity to showcase some of Saariaho and Barrière’s most trusted musicians, people who know exactly what performing these works requires. […] Camilla Hoitenga, Aliisa Neige Barrière and Raphaële Kennedy all performed their respective roles with great conviction […].
Helsingin Sanomat, Samuli Tiikkaja, 2021

Ekstasis is a fascinating fusion of concert and multimedia performance […]. Raphaële Kennedy’s free, flexible and highly expressive voice was given the final word in the concert in Barrière’s Ekstasis for soprano and electronics.
Hufvudstadsbladet, Heidi Korhonen-Björkman, 2021

Soprano Raphaële Kennedy gave an outstanding rendition of the vocal element of the piece, which includes much pure singing but also a wealth of extended vocal techniques. Accompanied only by electronics, Kennedy managed to retain her sense of pitch while sailing magnificently through the enormous vocal challenges Lonh presents.
Opera News, Argo McKinnon, 2012

[…] Lonh, a solo soprano work given a virtuosic reading by Raphaële Kennedy […]
The New-York Times, Allan Kozinn, 2012

Raphaële Kennedy was the riveting soloist in the newest work on the program, Ekstasis.
The New-York Times, Zachary Woolfe, 2014


For soprano and electroacoustic device, in CD Aubes
For Raphaële Kennedy | Commissioned by the GMEM

Raphaële Kennedy | soprano
Pierre-Adrien Charpy | sound diffusion

The entire piece follows a gentle modulation of long, floating sounds, accompanied by a sometimes fragile, deep bass. Here, the voice warms up, sometimes very energetically, reciting a poem by the 8th-century Chinese poet Du Fu. He acquired a vast estate, planted a host of different trees and plants, and lived there, with a view of the river and faraway mountains. The poem certainly bears the mark of his contemplations, and shares them as a succession of short, rich images. The score reprises the simple poem format, in four sections, with the voice gaining in mobility while reciting the text, striving to achieve each inflexion, of utter importance in Chinese languages. So the electronics serve to resonate, opening up the space Du Fu hints at. The title repeats two words from the poem in the evocation of the « western peaks » that rear up in the window frame.

Few composers of Robert Pascal’s stature have entertained that necessary inner collision of thoughts in order to extract the essence of a doubt, and thus freedom. Freedom in which music decants the special signification in a life embracing strength in sincerity, held up as unity in direction. Resolutely refusing to rest on any laurels, he built a body of work that reflects precisely all that exhilarated his life. As a qualified maths teacher, he knew that writing may flourish when scrupulously articulating the void. The abstract nature of the art of producing sounds – in which composing means making sense of heterogeneity and even chaos – set up the greatest and most prolific of spheres of action. In keeping with the commitment demonstrated by his master Raffi Ourgandjian, he appropriated an approach tapping into creation as abandonment. Thus, he vigorously eliminated any form of power, even in an intellectual sense. As a teacher of composition, he constantly strived to be an exceptional source of support for his students, cloaked in respected discretion and humility. For his students and loved ones, he replaced everyday life which cannot be seized upon, and which escapes us indefinitely, with the unnoticed, that cannot be shut away, where we find a subtle tangle of truths that no media drenched in pictures and words could ever portray. Nature, the Provençal dialect, the mountains that reward our efforts with beauty and depth in vision, his love of the land and his yearning for cubist light from the south, all firmly cast him as a Mediterranean soul. Such was Robert Pascal, an intermingling of his life and works and ever lucky encounters for his friends.
Henry Fourès

[…] On this beautiful, strange and penetrating disc, […] xī lǐng (2012), a spectacular Chinese-style landscape, snow-capped peaks, a boat on a lake and birds in the sky, for soprano and electroacoustic device, with the porcelain voice of Raphaële Kennedy.
L.L., november 2023


World premiere opera for young audiences
Libretto and Staging by Sylvain Maurice
Music by Laurent Cuniot

Raphaële Kennedy | soprano
Anne-Cécile Cuniot | flute
Etienne Lamaison | clarinet
Gianny Pizzolato | percussions
Antonin Bouvret | scenography
Loïs Drouglazet | video creation
Rodolphe Martin | lighting creation
Léa Perron | costumes
Yann Bouloiseau | sound
Rémi Rose | general management

On the shelves of a library open to the imagination, the illustrated album by Oliver Jeffers: The extraordinary boy who devoured books. Henri devoured them for good, voraciously, making himself sick with stories and knowledge until he lost everything, before discovering, in reading, an effective and joyful remedy. Sylvain Maurice seizes the book, as a gourmet more than a gourmand. He draws from it the libretto of a musical theater for young people. He imagines a video scenography like a blank page where all the words, the desires, the oddities of this unheard of and unheard of childhood craving are projected. It is the world of which all children who dream and are therefore not reasonable are curious, the world of those who will come to listen to this small opera with one voice, three instrumentalists and electronic device. Dynamic, often mobile and sometimes mysterious, Laurent Cuniot’s music speaks directly to the sensitivity of young spectators. It opens back doors to sound elsewhere with which they are not familiar. Unheard of, again. How unheard of is the coloratura soprano voice of Raphaële Kennedy, at once very maternal and very juvenile, narrator and embodiment of the characters. She flies in the heart of this fantasy with the colors of a poetic, dreamlike, fantastic, funny and moving rainbow if one wants to listen to it.

The title is delightful, the work is no less so. […] Laurent Cuniot’s music is nothing less than demanding, linking the voice and the three instruments in a complicit, inventive and often virtuoso writing. Raphaële Kennedy’s performance, full of freshness and vitality, to which the score leaves almost no respite, is spectacular. […] She is irresistible in the « songs » that punctuate the score. […] Like our soprano, Anne-Cécile Cuniot, Etienne Lamaison and Gianny Pizzolato are exemplary partners in a performance in which « meaning and sound become one », as the composer points out.
ResMusica, Michèle Tosi, 2019

The music of Laurent Cuniot gives to hear the clarity and the nuances of the pure and virtuoso coloratura soprano voice of Raphaële Kennedy […]. The instruments converse with pleasure […].
Théâtre du blog, Véronique Hotte, 2019


Music by Gérard Grisey

Raphaële Kennedy | soprano
Laurent Cuniot | conductor

I conceived Quatre chants pour franchir le seuil as a musical meditation on death in four parts : the death of the angel, the death of civilization, the death of the voice and the death of humanity. […] The texts chosen belong to four civilizations (Christian, Egyptian, Greek, Mesopotamian) and have in common a fragmentary discourse on the ineluctability of death. […] Almost like a fifth song, once again « diatonic », the tender lullaby that seals the cycle is not intended for sleep but for awakening. Music of the dawn of a humanity finally rid of the nightmare. I dare to hope that this lullaby will not be one of those that we will sing tomorrow to the first human clones when it will be necessary to reveal to them the unbearable genetic and psychological violence that was done to them by a humanity desperately in search of founding taboos.
Gérard Grisey

Death and its rituals. Musical, poetic, inner worlds turning like planets. Thousand-year-old civilizations brought before us and which tell of the passage. Raphaële Kennedy’s crystal voice sings of the inevitability of disappearances – men, beliefs, civilisations – in barely visible shimmers and unfathomable maelstroms. There is no question of consoling religion or abysses of despair : only the absolute plenitude of an artist who seizes the inescapable question and offers us his music from beyond, a voice like red gold above the tumult., Didier Lamare, 2014


Music by Luciano Berio, Carlo Gesualdo and Luca Marenzio

Serge Maggiani | narrator
Raphaële Kennedy, Céline Boucard, Anne Magouët, Anne-Marie Jacquin | sopranos
Els Janssens, Caroline Gesret | mezzo-sopranos
Isabelle Deproit | alto
Hugues Primard, Jean-François Chiama | tenors
Paul-Alexandre Dubois, Nicolás Lartaun, baritones
Ensemble Ars Nova
Emma Liégeois | video actress
Gregory Vajda | musical direction
David Lescot | stage direction
Alwyne de Dardel | scenography
Serge Meyer | video
Olga Karpinsky | costumes
Juliette Besançon | lighting
Augustin Muller | Ircam electronics, Ircam computer music consultancy
Jérémie Bourgogne | Ircam sound diffusion
Marie Delebarre, Erwan Le Metayer, Maxime Robert | stage management

Laborintus II is a work for the stage; it can be treated as a story, an allegory, a documentary or a dance.
Luciano Berio

[…] a hallucinatory sequence of 60s free jazz, letting loose and giving free rein to improvisation. It’s a chance to sing and dance for the sparkling Raphaële Kennedy, galvanised by the effects of an eccentric trumpet and two drum sections.
ResMusica, Michèle Tosi, june 2023

[…] Ars Nova’s remarkably well-prepared group of singers, particularly the female trio, display a profusion of language and speech. The unbridled vocality, the soloistic and noisy escapes (clapping hands) are never at the expense of accuracy and overall balance.
ConcertoNet, Jérémie Bigorie, june 2023

Conducted by Gregory Vajda, the artists of the Ars Nova ensemble deliver a performance of the highest calibre.
Anaclase, BB, june 2023

A splendour, masterfully interpreted.
[…] The singers, musicians and Maggiani drift madly through the texts: on the one hand, Dante’s language, set to music in this way, rediscovers its original tessitura, and on the other, litanies of places and names, spoken and embodied by the exceptional singers of Ars Nova.
Transfuge, Oriane Jeancourt Galignani, june 2023

Photos credits:
L’Annonce faite à Marie©Martin Argyroglo
Auscúltare©Bertrand Wolff
Visual concerts©Isabelle Françaix
xī lǐng@Jean-Paul Villegas
L’Enfant inouï©Elizabeth Carecchio
Quatre chants pour franchir le seuil©DR