On Nov. 17, Sony Classical will be digitally releasing “Between Yesterday and Tomorrow: The Extraordinary Life of an Ordinary Woman.” The album, first conceived for Barbara Streisand almost 45 years ago by composer Michel Legrand, will follow Natalie Dessay through a story that spans from birth to death while capturing all the beauty therein.
According to the New York Times, the partnership between Legrand and Dessay came about back in 2008, when Dessay was producing a live revue of songs by Legrand. After touring Europe and Canada together with a jazz trio, they released an album in 2013 titled “Entre Elle et Lui,” featuring two songs made famous by Barbara Streisand, whom Dessay deeply admires: “Papa Can You Hear Me?” and What Are You Doing the Rest of Your Life?”
Dessay’s work with Legrand’s material was far from over. In an interview with the NY Times Legrand says: “I played her some melodies and told her it was an oratorio for one voice and a symphonic orchestra. She started to cry and shout, she was walking on the ceiling, and she said, ‘Oh la la, that’s exactly what I want to do. I want to record it, give it to me.’” In producing this album, Legrand reunited with lyricists Alan and Marilyn Bergman, now aged 92 and 88 respectively.
While Barbara Streisand ultimately turned down the project, certain songs have found their way onto different albums, such as “Between Yesterday and Tomorrow,” and “Mother and Child,” in which the singer fills both roles as a sort of duet.
According to Dessay, Streisand not performing the full oratorio “freed me to be the inspiration for the cycle’s completion. The inclusion of birth and death speaks to me, and I really wanted to perform that.”
While the project has taken 45 years, Legrand has brought to it the entirety of the experience he has gained over his long career. “That’s what’s great about Michel,” Dessay says. “He has a freedom today that he may not have had 30 or 40 years ago. If he wants to pay tribute to composers he loves, well, he just does. It’s his way of saying, ‘This is part of my world, this is what has nourished me, and now it’s part of my music.’” Legrand himself says “The older you get, the better you get, and I write 45 times better than I did back then.”
Liked it? Take a second to support Logan Martell on Patreon!
A consummate and many-faceted artist, soprano Natalie Dessay has enjoyed a long and exceptional career, constantly diversifying and renewing her repertoire – from dazzling coloratura to tragic lyric roles, from the fireworks of Mozart’s Magic Flute and Donizetti’s Daughter of the Regiment to the most heart-rending and fragile melodies françaises. Born in Lyon, she discovered her voice in Bordeaux while pursuing her dream of becoming a dancer. In 1992 she made her debut at L’Opéra Bastille singing the role of Olympia in Offenbach’s Tales of Hoffmann. Since then she has appeared regularly on many of the world’s leading opera stages, among them L’Opéra National de Paris, Royal Opera House Covent Garden, Metropolitan Opera New York, Theater an der Wien & Staatsoper Vienna and La Scala Milan, winning universal international acclaim for her performances in Lakmé (Delibes), Ariane auf Naxos & Arabella (Strauss), Orpheus in the Underworld (Offenbach), The Nightingale (Stravinsky), Alcina (Handel), Manon (Massenet), Pelléas et Mélisande (Debussy), Lucia di Lammermoor (Donizetti) and Il Somnambula (Bellini). Natalie Dessay is a regular collaborator with Michel Legrand and together they have performed all over the world. She is also a committed recital singer, frequently performing French melodies and German Lieder with Laurent Naouri, Maciej Pikulski or Philippe Cassard. In 2015 she revealed new depths of dramatic and rhetorical insight, making her debut as a narrator in performances of Howard Barkler’s monologue Und at the Théâtre Olympia in Tours, and in Paris at the Théâtre de l’Athénée. The project was so successful that it was revived at the Théâtre des Abbesses in Paris in May 2016. Natalie Dessay is the only French female artist to be awarded the honorary rank of Kammersängerin by the Vienna Staatsoper.