La Voix humaine

Francis Poulenc

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In this emotional solo piece, a young woman clings desperately onto the phone that connects her to her former lover. Through intimate conversations she slowly reveals her anguish over his abandonment and admits to attempted suicide the night before. This melodrama about unrequited love and a struggle with depression will be led by an all-female all-Canadian trio: soloist Mireille Lebel, stage director Rachel Peake and Vancouver Opera’s Principal Répétiteur, Kinza Tyrrell.

A performance in one act for soprano and piano.

Digital Premiere:

Saturday, October 24, 2020 at 7:30PM


40 minutes

Sung in:

French with English subtitles



Ms. Martha Lou Henley, C.M.

Alan and Gwendoline Pyatt Foundation

Yoshiko Karasawa


Mr. Ross & Ms. Ursula Southam


Brigitte & Henning Freybe


A woman (“Elle” – She) lies in her apartment. At first, we do not know if she is alive or dead. She rises and is about to leave when the phone interrupts her. There is confusion on the line with wrong numbers and crossed wires. Finally, the third call gets through–it is her ex-lover. She tells him that she was out with her friend Marthe the night before after which she took a pill to help her sleep upon her return home. The couple discusses their past relationship and she blames herself for their problems, telling him “Everything is my fault” (Tout est ma faute). As the conversation continues there are numerous telephone problems and the connection terminates. She calls her former lover back but learns he is not at home; he has been out all evening. He calls back and she hides the fact she knows he is not calling from home. She admits to having lied about going out with Marthe and tells him that the truth is she attempted to die from suicide by taking sleeping pills. After taking the pills she called Marthe and Marthe came with a doctor to save her. Suddenly, she hears background music and suspects that her lover is at his new girlfriend’s home. She hints at this suspicion, but it is never confirmed. She reveals that she is obsessed with the telephone and has slept with it in bed the past two nights. Again, the connection is terminated, and she panics. Her lover calls back again and she tells him that she has the telephone cord wrapped around her neck. She tells him to hang up while she professes her love over and over again until at last the connection is cut for the last time.


Composed by Francis Poulenc
Based on a play of the same title by Jean Cocteau

Francis Jean Marcel Poulenc (1899–1963) was a French composer and pianist. His compositions include songs, solo piano works, chamber music, choral pieces, operas, ballets, and orchestral concert music. Among the best-known are the piano suite Trois mouvements perpétuels (1919), the ballet Les biches (1923), the Concert champêtre (1928) for harpsichord and orchestra, the Organ Concerto (1938), the opera Dialogues des Carmélites (1957), and the Gloria (1959) for soprano, choir and orchestra.


Cast & Creative

Rachel Peake


Kinza Tyrrell


Mireille Lebel


House Programme

La Voix humaine

Read the digital house programme for La Voix humaine and get to know more about his opera, the cast, creative team and the digital season!

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Meet Director Rachel Peake

Learn more about how Rachel envisions the piece for the screen and why La Voix humaine’s story remains relevant 50 years later.

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Meet Mezzo-Soprano Mireille Lebel

Get to know La Voix humaine, a moving and emotional struggle of unrequited love.

Watch Interview

Meet Music Director and Pianist Kinza Tyrrell

Kinza introduces us to the evocative and dramatic score from this incredible one-act opera. 

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Pre-Show Talk with Colleen Maybin

Hear Colleen Maybin, Vancouver Opera’s Director of Learning and Engagement, talk about the history behind the opera and its composer Francis Poulenc.
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