Australian soprano Nicole Car and her husband, the French-Canadian baritone Etienne Dupuis, last performed together in Sydney for Opera Australia’s concert presentation of Massenet’s Thaïsin 2017. It’s therefore fitting that their follow-up appearance is with a touring recital of French song, which sees them luxuriously partnered by pianist Jayson Gillham.

Nicole Car and Etienne Dupuis. Photograph © Yan Bleney

Although it was announced from the stage that Car was suffering from a virus, necessitating program changes, the soprano exhibited very little vocal strain. Her French idiomatic and expressive, she opened the recital with a voluptuously serene rendition of Duparc’s L’invitation au voyage, the important refrain “La tout n’est qu’ordre et beaute, Luxe, calme et volupte” (There all is order and beauty, luxury, calm, and pleasure!) sung with palpable longing. As always, Car draws from a remarkable palette of colours to impart meaning and establish mood, as with Hahn’s L’heure exquise, which seemed to tremble with a mixture of sorrow and hope. With tonal refulgence and attention to text, the soprano made Massenet’s Élégiequietly devastating, preceded by an equally haunting account of Fauré’s Automne. A sublime setting of the...