Dessay and Cassard have dipped into the so-called "Vasnier Songbook," a collection of unrevised songs presented by the young composer to the soprano Marie Vasnier, with whom he had an affair during the same period when Vasnier's husband was Debussy's patron.
The "Clair de lune" and "En sourdine" of this set are completely different songs from the revised versions usually sung today, with the latter a boulevardier outing plainly from the composer of the piano chestnut "Clair de lune." Madame Vasnier obviously had a freakishly high voice, so it makes sense for Dessay to sing the selections she chooses here.
She has made a specialty of Bellini and Donizetti heroines, excelling in roles both comic (La Fille du Regiment) and tragic (Lucia).
Her performances in those roles were featured in Live from the Met Simulcasts in 20, respectively.
But she has continued to record, taking on several projects beyond the scope of opera (something she had previously avoided).
Her 2013 release, Entre elle et lui, was a duo project with veteran French film composer and jazz pianist Michel Legrand.In 2017, Dessay released Pictures of America, her first English-language album, featuring a program of selections from the Great American Songbook., back in 1999, pianist Graham Johnson noted that there were two Debussy songs written earlier than "Nuit d'étoiles" but that these "have disappeared." In the intervening years, the situation has turned out to be more complicated than that.Other releases include Offenbach's Orphée and a Mozart aria disc on Virgin.She has recorded both the original French and Italian versions of Lucia di Lammermoor.(The latter may not really be a song; the booklet essay coyly states that "two sketches survive.") On the other hand, "Les Elfes" is an enormous ballad, lasting some seven minutes in this performance.The text is by Leconte de Lisle, whose poetry is familiar from Duparc's "Phidylé" and Fauré's "Nell" and "Lydia," and the piano part is another demonstration of Debussy's uncanny ability to make two hands sound like four.Her recital album, Vocalises, won a Diapason d'Or award and a Classique d'Or RTL in 1998.Despite the need for vocal cord surgery, which put her career on hold from 2002 until 2005, EMI's recording of Lakmé with Michel Plasson conducting and Dessay in the title role won the award for French Recording of the Year at the Victoires de la Musique Classique.Her list of awards also includes the Opera News Award and the Laurence Olivier Award (both 2008), and her designation as a Chevalier of the Legion of Honor (2011).In 2013, Dessay retired from live operatic performance (her final role was as Massenet's Manon in Toulouse, France).