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Don Quichotte

by Jules Massenet

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from 10 May to 11 June 2024

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by Richard Strauss

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by Gaspare Spontini

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    23 April 2024

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    Opéra national de Paris selected to take part in ICC Immersion South Korea and ICC Immersion United Arab Emirates

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    19 April 2024

    Cast change: Don Quichotte

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    26 April 2024

    Exhibition "Le Serment d’Opéra"

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    08 April 2024

    Tous à l'Opéra ! Édition 2024

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    27 March 2024

    Prix de l'Arop season 2022/2023

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    26 March 2024

    Bleuenn Battistoni nominated Danseuse Étoile de l'Opéra national de Paris

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    18 March 2024

    Kinoshita Group Co., Ltd. and the Paris Opera are glad to announce the signature of a major partnership

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    08 March 2024

    Cast change: Don Quichotte

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    06 March 2024

    The Exterminating Angel: cast change

Life at the Opera

  • Myriam Ould-Braham bids farewell to the stage
    Video

    Myriam Ould-Braham bids farewell to the stage

  • Damiano Michieletto about Don Quichotte
    Video

    Damiano Michieletto about Don Quichotte

  • La Vestale: a prophetic opera - Interview with Lydia Steier
    Video

    La Vestale: a prophetic opera - Interview with Lydia Steier

  • Sancho: a question of life and death - Interview with Étienne Dupuis
    Video

    Sancho: a question of life and death - Interview with Étienne Dupuis

  • The Voices of the Troupe: Marine Chagnon
    Video

    The Voices of the Troupe: Marine Chagnon

  • All the same, men and women alike
    Article

    All the same, men and women alike

  • Podcast Don Quichotte
    Video

    Podcast Don Quichotte

  • Draw-me Don Quichotte
    Video

    Draw-me Don Quichotte

  • Podcast Giselle with France Musique
    Video

    Podcast Giselle with France Musique

  • Draw-me Salome
    Video

    Draw-me Salome

Myriam Ould-Braham bids farewell to the stage

Watch the video

In rehearsal for Giselle

6:28 min

Myriam Ould-Braham bids farewell to the stage

By Antony Desvaux

On the occasion of her farewell to the stage, Myriam Ould-Braham performs the title role in Giselle. The Étoile dancer rehearses this great classical ballet by Jean Coralli and Jules Perrot with her partner Paul Marque.

She looks back on her career and the evolution of her personality, from her first dance lessons to her latest role at the Palais Garnier.

Finally, she talks about her preparation, both physical and mental, as well as her emotions and questions in the run-up to this event.

Damiano Michieletto about Don Quichotte

Watch the video

7:11 min

Damiano Michieletto about Don Quichotte

By Isabelle Stibbe

La Vestale: a prophetic opera - Interview with Lydia Steier

Listen the podcast

5:47 min

La Vestale: a prophetic opera - Interview with Lydia Steier

By Isabelle Stibbe

After Salome, Lydia Steier returns to the Paris Opera with her new production of Gaspare Spontini's La Vestale.

She explains the synopsis, the work's place in the history of opera, her dramaturgical vision and the contribution of Elza van den Heever in the title role.

Sancho: a question of life and death - Interview with Étienne Dupuis

Watch the video

5:18 min

Sancho: a question of life and death - Interview with Étienne Dupuis

By Isabelle Stibbe

As he comes to grips with the role of Sancho Panza in Damiano Michieletto's new production of Massenet's Don Quichotte, baritone Étienne Dupuis analyzes his character and the reasons for his devotion to Don Quichotte.

The Voices of the Troupe: Marine Chagnon

Watch the video

5:09 min

The Voices of the Troupe: Marine Chagnon

By Isabelle Stibbe

The Paris Opera is launching a new series, Les Voix de la Troupe, to get to know the talents who have joined the House's new opera troupe.

Meet mezzo-soprano Marine Chagnon, currently singing in Massenet's Don Quichotte until 11 June, and find out more about her singing career before joining the Troupe just after training at the Academy, as well as her rituals before going on stage and her most memorable encounters.

© Anne Van Aerschot

All the same, men and women alike

Read the article

Interview with Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker

11 min

All the same, men and women alike

By Wannes Gyselinck

The Opera has invited choreographer Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker to stage Mozart's Così fan tutte. Literally: "All women behave the same way." The choreographer returns to the ambiguities of Così, misogynist for some, a forerunner to feminism for others.

Cosi fan tutte is often accused of being a misogynist work. What is your opinion on the question?


Così fan tutte
received an unusual welcome. Mozart composed the opera in 1790, a year after the French Revolution and a year before his death. These two shadows hover over the opera. This explains why, musically speaking, this comedy expresses a feeling of loss. We sense a farewell to life and a farewell to an era. The first unanimously acclaimed performances were followed by the sudden death of Joseph II, head of the Holy Roman Empire. He was not only Mozart's patron and protector, but also one of the most illustrious political figures of the Enlightenment. In particular, he had reformed marital law so that women could give their consent before marrying. In other words, they were able, for the first time, to choose their partner. After the French Revolution and the Terror came the bourgeois restoration with its stricter morals, at the expense of women, as always. In this transformed climate, Così fan tutte suddenly seemed too light, too frivolous, too sexually explicit. No doubt, the libretto was also responsible, walking the tightrope as it does between opera buffa and opera seria, between comic and serious.

The opera is not misogynous, quite the contrary. Both interpretations - misogyny and excessive frivolity – reveal, I feel, superficial reading. Above all, superficial listening. Prima the musica, dopo le parole. First the music, then the words. For it is in the music that everything is played out. The music transforms the burlesque banality of this boulevard comedy into a deeply melancholic, almost cosmic-religious contemplation on the relationship between desire and death, and on the complexity of the human soul. Especially the music of the female characters. In reality, the men are portrayed as idiots. They act like machos. Only their wives' faithfulness counts, it is a question of honour vis-à-vis other men. To be cuckolded, betrayed by another man, was the supreme humiliation. 


Could it be said that Mozart was a precocious feminist, in this case?


We are sure that in the last years of his life Mozart was very much influenced by the Enlightenment thinkers. Their ideas, which would eventually trigger the French Revolution, circulated in secret Viennese societies of which Mozart was a member - Freemasons, Rosicrucians and other esoteric clubs. To use the vocabulary of the Freemasons, these places were true workshops where they sought ways to transform the existing order on the basis of Reason. Don Alfonso's experiment should be read as a proposal to fundamentally challenge and reassess the established order between men and women, based on reason. It is a typical Enlightenment project.

Mozart adds a critical dimension to this project through music. As Don Alfonso's lesson in moral is expounded, the music takes on no triumphant tones, something unheard-of in an opera finale. It also holds back somewhat in the arias where Mozart gives wings to his characters' thoughts and to the complex hues of their sentimental lives, especially those of the women. The music takes on a depth that suggests the volcanic potential of animal desire and instincts, as well as their vulnerability. The fact that the dramatic and musical summits of the arias are those of the female characters owes nothing to chance. If Mozart suggests anything, it is that the sentimental life of women is more serious and more profound than that of men. Don Alfonso's moral lesson may perhaps shelter you from naivety or even the bruises of love, but Mozart seems to have strong doubts that placing all our trust in reason can make us happy.    


Should we conclude that the music casts a shadow over the moral lesson of the Enlightenment?


Yes, but the libretto is also less naive than one might think. Despina, the slightly older maid, is the female counterpart of Don Alfonso. While the men supposedly go off to war, she obliges the women, afflicted and left at home, to face reality. "Do you really think your fiancées who have gone to war will remain faithful? My young doves, have no illusions. Instead of sitting sobbing, do as I do, go hunting!" She makes a plea for feminine autonomy, for pleasure and a sense of reality. The process they undergo invites them to take a new look at relations between men and women.
For the men too, Ferrando first, make the unsettling observation that they may be in love with two women at the same time and that their courtly and aristocratic notion of love is too simplistic.

By trading their traditional uniforms for the exotic clothes of Albanian soldiers, they open a door that allows them to escape protocols. All of a sudden, love becomes a terra incognita, a laboratory where it is possible to carry out experiments without knowing the result in advance, even for the men. Così fan tutte's plot is often compared to a chemical process: four characters are merged and the audience observes the result.
© Anne Van Aerschot

If "Cosi" is an alchemical experiment, what is the gold produced at the end?


It's a tricky question. Because the new interactions, the newly-formed couples, are undone at the end. All the actors come out of the experiment in tatters. Nothing has changed in appearance, yet nothing can be as before. At the beginning of the opera, they possess an idealistic and naive idea of love. Love is eternal, unconditional, ultimate. This is unrealistic and even unreal: the men take their wives for goddesses; the women swoon in front of the portraits of their lovers. Actually, they are all in love with an idea. One cannot call it romanticism, for that is yet to come. Let's just say that their ideas about love are conventional. They are part of existing societal structures that serve to contain instincts and passions.

More so in women. The symbolic gold lies, therefore, in the invitation to accept more complex, less naive and more adult ideas about love. In my opinion, this is the true moral lesson: yes, it will hurt, love is indeed complicated, disturbing, uprooting; but nobody can do anything about it. We are very far from the "heroines" of romantic operas who go mad through love, or, deceived or abandoned, take their own lives in a Lucia di Lammermoor-style fit of hysteria. Isn't it in these romantic operas that we find true misogyny?


How would you explain them?


The period during which Mozart wrote the opera can also be seen as a transformation in the alchemical sense. The French Revolution, the transmission of power from the aristocracy to the bourgeoisie, also bids farewell to the established order and heralds a quest for other possible forms. But these elements are not enough to explain the music's melancholy, which often occurs at times when the text is relatively commonplace. Take for example the two couples' moment of separation, in Soave sia il vento, when the men supposedly leave for war.
The music goes much further than the plot itself. Few pieces of music express with such nuance and force the relation between desire and death. Wherever the word "desire" is sung, Mozart places a chord containing an unknown, almost modern dissonance.

Desire is brought into tension from a harmonic point of view. The same thing happens in Le Nozze di Figaro when Barbarina loses her pin in the grass. She sings that she cannot find her pin and fears that the intrigue will be divulged. The statement could hardly be more banal on the surface. But the music is elegiac in beauty. Mozart expresses here a feeling of loss that we can frankly describe as existential. It is tempting to consider this scene in the light of his approaching and far-too premature death. In Mozart, this moment echoes a consciousness of concrete finitude, and also suggests a consciousness integrated into the whole.

How do you manage this tension between the libretto and the music in your staging?


The function of dance is to underline the tension between text and music, and even at times to emphasise it. As in Vortex Temporum, every musician, every singer in this case, is doubled by a dancer. This duplication creates a third visible voice alongside the music and the text. It was above all because of the music that, despite my doubts about opera as a medium, I accepted the Paris Opera's invitation: it is so full of movement, both bodily and emotional. Taking music as a starting point, I hope to attain a higher degree of abstraction, and through it discover the essence of the work. In most productions, the beauty and depth of the music is drowned under draperies, costumes, doors that open and close.

No effort is spared to make the intrigue and psychology clear. It is precisely these aspects that interest me the least. In this respect, Michael Haneke is the exception that confirms the rule. His approach was very realistic, yet his staging was masterful. Others update the situation, like Peter Sellars who transposes the story into a modern American diner and insists on the buffa aspect. My objective is different again: to use dance to disperse the tension between the instincts of life and death. How can we make Mozart's ideas readable or better still tangible, without interpreting them? How can dance elevate the anecdotal dimensions of the plot to a higher, more human, even cosmic level? How can we ensure that we are not talking about men and women but about masculine and feminine energies?   

What attracts you least for the moment in the classic man/woman dance scenario?


I am more interested in recursive phenomena that go beyond this biological polarity. It's not that I deny this polarity, but I seek to translate it into a more abstract form. I find it less and less interesting to embody it in its most primary and instinctive form - man set against woman. Just what interests me about dance is the possibility it offers to materialize the most abstract ideas. This development is also linked to aging: I feel a greater need for formalism in writing, to touch more on the essence of things.


Wannes Gyselinck is senior editor of rekto:verso.

Podcast Don Quichotte

Listen the podcast

Dance! Sing! Tales of Opera and Ballet

Podcast Don Quichotte

By Charlotte Landru-Chandès

"Dance! Sing! 7 minutes at the Paris Opera" offers original incursions into the season thanks to broadcasts produced by France Musique and the Paris Opera.

For each opera or ballet production, Charlotte Landru-Chandès (opera) and Jean-Baptiste Urbain (dance), present the works and artists you are going to discover when you attend performances in our theatres.

Draw-me Don Quichotte

Watch the video

Understand the plot in 1 minute

1:34 min

Draw-me Don Quichotte

By Matthieu Pajot

© Agathe Poupeney / OnP

Podcast Giselle with France Musique

Listen the podcast

Dance! Sing! Tales of Opera and Ballet

Podcast Giselle with France Musique

By Jean-Baptiste Urbain

"Dance! Sing! 7 minutes at the Paris Opera" offers original incursions into the season thanks to broadcasts produced by France Musique and the Paris Opera.

For each opera or ballet production, Charlotte Landru-Chandès (opera) and Jean-Baptiste Urbain (dance), present the works and artists you are going to discover when you attend performances in our theatres.

Draw-me Salome

Watch the video

Understand the plot in 1 minute

1:42 min

Draw-me Salome

By Matthieu Pajot

Salome, princess of Judea, the daughter‑in‑law of King Herod, finds life in her father‑in‑law’s palace dreary. Her curiosity is roused when she hears the voice of Jochanaan, a prophet held prisoner by Herod who is afraid of him. Obsessed by this enigmatic and virtuous man, Salome is ready to do anything to possess him, dead or alive. 
Drawing on Oscar Wilde’s scandalous play of the same name, in 1905 Richard Strauss produced the work that was to ensure his status as Wagner’s successor in the history of German opera. 
“Dance for me, Salome”. From Herod’s lubricious injunction to the young woman stems one of the most emblematic orchestral passages in opera: the dance of the seven veils. A hypnotic interlude in itself sufficient to capture the fatal mounting desire that suffuses this work whose orchestration is as rich as it is modern. 

A dazzling hour and forty minutes, decadent in its very essence, which, for her debut at the Paris Opera, Lydia Steier treats as a dystopia in which amorality rules.

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