Friendly Persuasions (2008)
Words by Gene Scheer & Music by Jake Heggie
The songs are based on four transformative friendships and meetings in Francis Poulenc’s life:
Wanda Landowska, Pierre Bernac, Raymonde Linossier and Paul Eluard
….a song cycle for tenor by Jake Heggie (composer of the opera Dead Man Walking) built on a great idea. Working in a form crammed to overflowing with sentimental love poetry, Heggie and his lyricist, Gene Scheer, deal instead with snapshots from the life of French composer Francis Poulenc in imaginative ways that ring true … Heggie deftly and quickly sketches the multiple musical personalities of Poulenc without imitating him per se. Heggie and Scheer also give their tenor a chance to do some vocal acting as if this were an opera, a freedom that the gifted Nicholas Phan exercised to the hilt. And the unusual ensemble for which Heggie wrote this version – harpsichord, oboe, flute and cello – relates directly to Poulenc’s sound world (the London world premiere in April was for tenor and piano).