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Track List: 1. I Am I 4:15 2. Here & There 1:30 3. The Wild Woods 5:20 4. Die Landfrau 4:08 5. Do Vipers Sting Do Vipers Bite 2:06 6. Doctor Faustus at Home 4:32 7. In the City 3:11 8. How Do You Know 1:55 9. The Saint 4:06 10. They Come from Everywhere 1:38 11. Intermezzo 0:39 12. She's All My Love 5:00 13. You Do Or You Do Not 2:39 14. Sailor's Song 4:34 15. Mr. Viper 3:32 16. Faust & Mephisto 5:07 17. I Can Be Everything 3:00 All music: by F. Ribac. Libretto: by E. Schwabe & Didier Doumergue. Line-up: Francois Ribac - all instruments Eva Schwabe - all vocals Produced by No Man's Land, Ltd. Engineered by F. Ribac & Charles Frossard at "Mesa" studio.
Preamble. "Marguerite Ida & Helena Annabel" is one of a few operas by the remarkable French composer and multi-instrumentalist Francois Ribac. According to the booklet of this CD, "Marguerite Ida & Helena Annabel" is the adaptation of Gertrude Stein's "Doctor Faustus Lights the Lights". If you wish to read the reviews of the other albums by Francois that I've heard up till now, click >here and >here. Within the next two weeks, though, I am going to review two more of his albums.
The Album. Intermezzo (11) is the only instrumental piece that is featured on "Marguerite Ida & Helena Annabel". Consisting exclusively of interplay between passages of piano and solos of accordion, this very short Classical Music-like piece should, in my view, be regarded as nothing else but an intro to the following track. Most of the songs on this album are about a blend of Classical Music and Opera with elements of Symphonic Progressive Rock and Operetta. As well as in the case of "Le Regard de Lyncee" (2000), reviewed by me for the previous update of the site, a few compositions in the end of the album are a bit simpler than all the others. These are all three of the last tracks on the CD: Mr. Viper, Faust & Mephisto, and I Can Be Everything (15, 16, & 17), and stylistically, they represent a blend of Classic Symphonic Art-Rock and Operetta with elements of Classical Music and Opera rather than vice versa. Which, though, doesn't diminish the value of these songs, as these are excellent songs and by all means. (Indeed, there just cannot be good or any other songs on the album consisting exclusively of masterpieces and excellent compositions: eureka! :-) She's All My Love (12) is about a unique fusion of Classical Music and Tango. While the music on You Do Or You Do Not (13) is nothing else but a highly complex Waltz. All eleven of the remaining songs are the representatives of the album's predominant stylistics. These are I Am I, Here & There, The Wild Woods, Die Landfrau, Do Vipers Sting Do Vipers Bite, Doctor Faustus at Home, In the City, How Do You Know, The Saint, They Come from Everywhere, and Sailor's Song (1 to 10, & 14). Well, it is time to depict the other significant aspects of the opera. Eva Schwabe performed all vocal parts here alone, and it's hard to believe it. Eva is a brilliant chameleon-singer, and the broadness of her vocal diapason is simply incredible. Representing all the personages of the opera, she is easily able to reproduce such a wide variety of different voices that you will never imagine until you listen to this album. It seems to me that on this opera, Eva has demonstrated the whole specter of human emotions and even shades of most of them. Furthermore (just for example), have you ever heard a vocal dialogue between a little girl and adult man that would've been sung by the same singer? Have you? Okay, but please believe me, I have to admit (and I am a real connoisseur of King Diamond's talents) that Eva Schwabe's range is much broader than that of King. So Eva can be called not only as the thousand-voice singer. Also, she should be entitled as the Queen of all Chameleons. It should also be said that the heroes and heroines of this opera sing mainly either in English or in German. As for Francois Ribac's wonderful capabilities for being a masterful Solo Pilot of Prog - a real multi-instrumentalist - they're present on "Marguerite Ida & Helena Annabel" in all their glory. For the most part, the instrumental musical palette of this album consists of symphonic colors, 'painted' with various string, chamber, brass, folk, and Rock instruments, including piano, synthesizer, bass guitar, and a wide variety of percussive instruments - from drums and hand percussion to gongs and bells. Apart from vocally instrumental parts, each song here features separate instrumental parts as well. Certainly, the constant development of musical events is typical for most compositions on the album here and is one of the central hallmarks of it. As for the overall atmosphere of the opera, often, it is more dramatic and tense than that of "Le Regard de Lyncee".
Summary. What can I add here, apart from my highest recommendations? If you're really into a serious progressive music, you will be happy to hear "Marguerite Ida & Helena Annabel". Several copies of the CD are still available at No Man's Land and Musea...
VM: December 31, 2002
F. Ribac on No Man's Land Records:
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