French baritone Stéphane Degout has received critical acclaim following the release of his recent recordings, Enfers (Harmonia Mundi) and Histoires Naturelles (B-Records).
Enfers – in which Degout is praised by The Times for his “throbbing anguish” – has been awarded an Opéra Magazine diamond. Critic Michel Parouty writes: “Stéphane Degout and Raphaël Pichon’s ‘Enfers’ is one of the events of the year so far!” Is it even necessary to highlight the qualities of Stéphane Degout? The beauty of his voice, the sumptuous metal of his timbre, his clarity of diction, the suppleness of his speech, the nobility of his declamation coupled with a musicality which lights up every word: is this as close to perfection as one can get?”
Histoires Naturelles has previously been described as “flawless” and has now also been awarded an Opéra Magazine diamond. Gerald Condé writes: “At the turn of the century, lyrical baritone Stephane Degout instantly confirmed his status as a one-of-a-kind artist whose qualities, both in terms of finesse and style, distinguish themselves even more in concert than on stage, where he has spent most of his career… Not a single word is lost, leaving the editor with no job other than the addition of the artists’ interviews at the end of the recording… Stéphane Degout has already evoked the delectable zoological sketches of Jules Renard [in a previous performance]. We find them again in this recording, almost identical, but with a superior vocal presence well worthy of being called exemplary: so is his interpretation that one hardly takes note of the traps which the singer has had to escape.”
And in reviewing the recording for Télérama, critic Sophie Bourdais says, “One could not wish for a better guide in this descent into hell: his voice possesses as much power as relief, his timbre blends darkness and light, and his diction and pronunciation border on perfection.”
Photo: Oper Frankfurt/Wolfgang Runkel