Composer Michel Legrand’s oratorio about one woman’s life, which was written for Barbra Streisand but left only partly recorded by the superstar vocalist, has been completed by operatic coloratura soprano Natalie Dessay and is now scheduled for digital release by Sony Classical on November 17 under the title Between Yesterday and Tomorrow: The Extraordinary Life of an Ordinary Woman.
The song cycle has lyrics by Legrand’s longtime collaborators, Alan and Marilyn Bergman. The hard-copy CD is scheduled for release January 5, 2018.
News of the release was first reported by The New York Times. The project, which traces a woman’s life experience from childhood, through first love, married life, and parenthood, had been planned by the writers since the early 1970s. Streisand reportedly expressed initial interest, but was unwilling to commit to the full project. Streisand has been a longtime interpreter of the French composer’s songs, including “What Are You Doing the Rest of Your Life?,” “The Summer Knows,” "The Windmills of Your Mind" and songs from the film Yentl, including “Papa Can You Hear Me?”
Streisand ended up recording several songs from the oratorio, then titled Life Cycle of a Woman, including “Between Yesterday and Tomorrow” and “Mother and Child,” but reportedly declined to complete the entire cycle, for several reasons, including the way the oratorio began and ended, and the way Legrand wanted to record it, Streisand told the Times.
Dessay, who sang with the Metropolitan Opera, retired in 2013 and has been touring with Legrand and a jazz trio. She reportedly worked with a vocal coach to retrain her voice for a more pop rendition of the songs. The French-born singer made her debut with the Met in 1994, and performed across the U.S. and internationally, including the 2009 title role in La sonnambula in its first performance at the Met in more than 40 years. She won an Olivier Award in London in 2008 for her performance in La Fille Du Regiment. Dessay was featured in the 2013 documentary film Becoming Traviata, about her growth in the title role through several European productions. She retired from the operatic stage in that same year, following a performance in the title role of Manon in Toulouse, France, and has concentrated on her jazz career.