Poulenc | La voix humaine

Originally streamed live from Jordan Hall on Thursday, February 25, 2021, this rebroadcast will be available through May 12, 2021.

NEC's Opera Studies Department is pleased to present Francis Poulenc's one act opera, La voix humaine. 

Based on the play by Jean Cocteau, La voix humaine is the story of a desperate woman on the phone with the man who has just abandoned her. The telephone becomes her last means of connection as she wavers between reverie and frenzy, rage and tenderness, trying to hold onto him.

Soprano Elaine Daiber '21 AD performs the role, accompanied by pianist J.J. Penna.


About the artists

Boston-based soprano, Elaine Daiber has been heralded for her “spectacular vocalism” (Hudson Housatonic Arts), which has garnered much acclaim on the operatic, concert, and recital stages. Most recently, Elaine was a resident artist at Yellow Barn, where she took part in a performance of György Kurtág’s Kafka Fragments. This coming season, Elaine looks forward to a concert of Bach arias and duets with Emmanuel Music. In the 2019/2020 season, she made her role debut as Ilia in Mozart’s Idomeneo in Boston's Jordan Hall, and was seen on the concert stage as the soprano soloist in Bach's Magnificat with Counterpoint Concerts in Chattanooga, TN, as a Schwab Vocal Rising Star with the New York Festival of Song at the Caramoor Center for Music and the Arts, and in the US premiere of Helen Grime’s Bright Travellers in a Boston Symphony Orchestra Prelude. Other engagements have seen the versatile soprano in a variety of performances with The Tanglewood Music Center, The Bard Music Festival, The New York Festival of Song, The Orchestra Now and the Albany Symphony, among others. Elaine holds degrees from the Oberlin Conservatory, Bard College and is currently completing an Artist Diploma degree at New England Conservatory. 

J.J. Penna has performed extensively with a variety of eminent singers, including Kathleen Battle, Harolyn Blackwell, Measha Brueggergosman, David Daniels, Denyce Graves, Ying Huang, Susan Narucki, Roberta Peters, Florence Quivar, and Andreas Scholl. He has held fellowships at the Tanglewood Music Center, Banff Center, Norfolk Chamber Music Festival, Music Academy of the West, and San Francisco Opera’s Merola Opera Program. He received his training under Martin Katz, Margo Garrett, and Diane Richardson. Devoted to the teaching of classical song literature, he has been on the faculties of the Yale University School of Music, the Norfolk Chamber Music Festival, the Bowdoin Festival, Westminster Choir College, and Vancouver International Song Institute. He currently teaches at the Juilliard School, the Steans Institute of the Ravinia Festival, the Renée Fleming Song Studio at Carnegie Hall, and New England Conservatory.

Toronto-born Joshua Major began his opera stage directing career at the age of 23 with La Cenerentola for Opera Omaha. Soon after, Mr. Major worked as an assistant at the Welsh National Opera, to Rhoda Levine at Juilliard, and to Cynthia Auerbach at both Chautauqua Opera and the New York City Opera. Mr. Major has worked as a stage director for over 30 years throughout the United States and Canada developing an impressive and diverse repertoire of productions.

Recent productions include L’assedio de Calais (Donizetti), Cendrillon (Massenet), Ezio (Gluck), Sir John in Love  (Vaughan Williams), Romeo & Juliet (Gounod), La Bohème  (Leoncavallo), Gianni Schicchi and Suor Angelica (Puccini), The Medium (Menotti), Un giorno di Regno  (Verdi), Die Fledermaus (Strauss) the North American premiere of Rossini's La GazzettaThe Consul (Menotti), The Cunning Little Vixen (Janáček), Lucia di Lamermoor  (Donizetti), The Turn of the Screw (Britten) Les mamelles de Tirésias (Poulenc),  Impressions de Pelléas (Brook/Debussy), L’enfant et les sortilèges (Ravel), and La tragédie de Carmen (Brook/Bizet). 

Mr. Major has worked for numerous companies including, Opera Theatre of St. Louis, Wolf Trap Opera, Central City Opera, Michigan Opera Theatre, Cape Town Opera, Opera Omaha, and Odyssey Opera. In August 2012 Mr. Major began as Chair of Opera Studies at New England Conservatory in Boston after completing 20 years on the faculty of the University of Michigan where he oversaw the Opera Program, both teaching and directing. Productions at the University of Michigan include FalstaffArmideA Midsummer Night’s Dream, and Eugene Onegin. From 2003-2014 Joshua Major was the Artistic Director of the Pine Mountain Music Festival, located in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan on the shores of Lake Superior where he produced over 300 concerts of opera, symphony, and chamber music. He continues to be a stage director and faculty member with the International Vocal Arts Institute (Tel Aviv, Montreal, New York) where he has directed annually since 1993.

Upcoming productions include Falstaff with both the Canadian Vocal Arts Institute and the Berkshire Opera Festival.

  • Elaine Daiber '21 AD, soprano
  • J.J. Penna, piano
  • Joshua Major, director and Chair of Opera Studies
  • Geoff Briggs, Productive Media