Poulenc: La Voix Humaine, for Soprano and Orchestra FP 171

SKU MM-0026
Weight 4.00 LBS
Difficulty Intermediate
Instrumentation 2Fl 1dPicc, Ob, CA, 2Cl, BCl, 2Bsn, 2Hn, 2Tpt, Tbn, Tba, Timp, Perc, Hp, Strings
Duration ca 40 minutes
Set of Parts Includes Strings count
Vocal Score Only available with the purchase of the Set of Parts
Score Type

La voix humaine (English: The Human Voice) is a forty-minute, one-act opera for soprano and orchestra composed by Francis Poulenc in 1958. The work is based on the play of the same name by Jean Cocteau, who, along with French soprano Denise Duval, worked closely with Poulenc in preparation for the opera's premiere. Poulenc's tragédie lyrique was first performed at the Théâtre National de l'Opéra-Comique in Paris on 6 February 1959, with Duval as the solo singer and Georges Prêtre conducting; the scenery, costumes and direction were by Cocteau.

The libretto consists of a woman's last phone conversation with her lover, who now loves someone else. During the call, the woman reveals that she has attempted suicide because her lover has abandoned her.

The curtain opens to reveal a bedroom where a woman (Elle) lies unmoving on the ground. Elle changes position once before finally rising. Although Elle makes to leave the room, the phone rings and Elle returns to answer it. Elle receives two wrong numbers before her ex-lover is able to get through to her. Elle lies to him, saying that she went out with her friend Marthe the previous night, and that she took one pill to help her fall asleep when she returned. The couple discusses their past relationship, and Elle blames herself for their problems, claiming, "Tout est ma faute." Throughout their conversation, they experience numerous telephone problems, and their connection finally cuts out completely. When Elle calls her lover's home phone, she discovers that he is not there and assumes that he is at a restaurant. He calls her back, and Elle reveals that she has lied during their conversation; instead of going out with Marthe the previous night, she took twelve sleeping pills in an attempted suicide. She then called Marthe, who arrived with a doctor to save her. Elle suddenly hears music in the background, and grows suspicious that her lover is at the home of his new girlfriend. Elle expresses her suspicions to him several times until the end of the opera, but he never admits to his true location. Elle also reveals her obsession with the telephone, explaining that she has slept with it in her bed for the past two nights. Their connection fails once again, and Elle panics. Her lover calls her back once more, and Elle informs him that she now has the telephone cord wrapped around her neck. Telling him she loves him over and over, she sinks into her bed and drops the receiver.

2Fl 1dPicc, Ob, CA, 2Cl, BCl, 2Bsn, 2Hn, 2Tpt, Tbn, Tba, Timp, Perc, Hp, Strings
ca 40 minutes
Set of Parts:
Includes Strings count
Vocal Score:
Only available with the purchase of the Set of Parts