“Ten Months of School and Opera” celebrates its birthday

25 years of art and teaching

By Inès Artigala 21 June 2016

© Agathe Poupeney / OnP

“Ten Months of School and Opera” celebrates its birthday

Art helps an individual to grow and shapes the citizen of tomorrow: two of the goals of the Ten Months of School and Opera programme. This educational initiative is the fruit of a partnership between the Paris Opera and the French Ministry of Education. For 25 years now, it has helped to guide children and adolescents to explore the world of music and dance. Thanks to written, visual, sung or choreographed creations, the 33 classes chosen each year underline the enthusiasm of the young participants and the growing success of this unique project.

Art and technique

Through numerous projects and encounters, students from kindergarten to high school age are introduced to the various professions of the performing arts and given a chance to experience the work that goes into the development of a live performance. Empowered by a new approach, free of the usual prejudices, the students immerse themselves enthusiastically in cultural activities they never imagined they might discover.

“I really enjoy the performing arts classes. Aside from learning about the “crafts” of an actor, singer or dancer, these projects help us develop since they require us to concentrate, to listen, and above all, to be demanding with ourselves.”

Mamou TRAORÉ – Age 13 – Collège Magellan – Chanteloup-les-Vignes – Rehearsal of L’Homme qui ne savait pas mourir (The Man Who Didn’t Know How To Die) – 25th Anniversary performance of TMSO

“The opera stagehands play a key role during performances, despite the fact that they remain behind the scenes. It might not be glamorous but it’s a job that actually is indispensable.”

Patryk BIELEN ANJOS – 1st car mechanic – Lycée Fernand Léger – Ivry-sur-Seine – Meeting with Alain Duret, Assistant Director of the Stagehand Department

“I love where I am: I’m right next to Morgane and when she sings, it really motivates me. She has a beautiful, powerful voice: the moment I hear it, it gives me that boost to do the same.”

Marie ROMAN – Age 13 – Collège Le Moulin à vent – Thorigny-sur-Marne – Rehearsal of L’Homme qui ne savait pas mourir (The Man Who Didn’t Know How To Die) – 25th Anniversary performance of TMSO

Multiple Emotions

Enriched by artistic workshops, live performances and visits, sensations abound and seek outlets of expression: when they return to school, the students explore these unknown emotions with their teachers and translate them in various ways. Their testimony reflects the intensity of the feelings experienced.

"Before, I was very shy. Now, I’m not so shy anymore."

Christine YU – Age 10 – École Cavé – Paris 18e – Rehearsal of L’Homme qui ne savait pas mourir (The Man Who Didn’t Know How To Die) – 25th Anniversary performance of TMSO

“It’s a place to sing. You can do it with a high voice or a deep voice. You can hear it all the way across town. If we like it, we can listen to opera all our lives.”

Sarushan THANGARAJAH – Age 11 – Collège Paul Vaillant Couturier – Champigny-sur-Marne

“You can’t describe Opera with words, you have to experience it.”

Aïssata BATHILY – Age 13 – Collège Paul Éluard – Bonneuil-sur-Marne – Visit to the Opéra Bastille


After covering the physical and symbolic spaces of the Opera, the classes participate in literary exercises which often call upon poetry and foreign languages. The young people are reconciled with words and use them as allies to face a complex reality where appearances are not everything.

“My Violin
With its plucked strings
Makes my nose quiver.
I put it away every evening
With a heart full of hope.”

Serena BISSA NONO – CM2 – École Poissonniers – Paris 18e – Poésie sur instrument

“Mefistófeles es el Diablo
Cuyo corazón es de piedra.
Mata y le da igual.
Lamentablemente, Margarita, cansada,
Es tu próxima víctima.
Te espera.”

“Mephistopheles is the devil
And his heart is made of stone.
He kills without compunction.
Unfortunately, an exhausted Marguerite
Is his next victim.
He is waiting for you.”

Morigane GAZONNOIS et Orlane CARMASOL – 4e – Collège Thomas Masaryk – Chatenay-Malabry – La Damnation de Faust (opéra)

“We went to Paris
To visit the famous Bastille Opera
And the bus took us,
Delighted to see the much-anticipated monument.
Armed with pens and notebooks, we began to write”.

Léane LEGROS – Age 12 – Collège Claude Monet – Magny-en-Vexin – Visit to the Opéra Bastille

© Agathe Poupeney / OnP

Fiction and diversions

Through introductory performances, the schoolchildren themselves become the actors in incredible stories. Confronted with fictitious situations, as fantastic as they are universal, they adopt wide-ranging points of view, develop their sensitivity and position themselves in relation to the world.

“If I were Bluebeard, I wouldn’t kill wives. I would shave off my beard so as not to be ugly. I wouldn’t be all high and mighty, I would live in the country and marry a woman worthy of me. I would take her on a trip, she would never forget it, and she would always love me.”

Abdallah EL BEYALLY – Age 9 – École Planchat – Paris 20e Bluebeard’s Castle (opera)

“I would like to be in a fashion show trying on all the theatre costumes. I’d also like to swim with the fish in the lake under the Opéra Garnier.”

Djallia BENONY – Age 10 – École Roger Sémat – Saint-Denis

“Let me introduce myself:
I’m big and heavy and yet I shimmer.
I have over 350 lightbulbs and I weigh 7 tonnes.
I have a decoration above my head painted
By Marc Chagall.
They take photos of me and look at me
Whilst I pose and glance back.
One day, after looking too much, I killed and injured.
In short, you understand: I’m the chandelier at the Opera Garnier.”

Loïde TUCANA – Age 12 – Collège Alain Fournier – Paris 11e – Visit to the Palais Garnier

Les Petits Violons 2016
Les Petits Violons 2016 © Agathe Poupeney / OnP


Letters exchanged with real or imaginary correspondents help to instil a more intimate form of expression freed from the constraints of school work. The appropriation of the worlds explored is reinforced, lending their poetic charm to texts imbued with still-vivid impressions.

Letter to Napoléon

“Dear Napoléon, I saw the Opera that you had built. What a shame that you couldn’t see it because it’s beautiful. It's like a palace. You were very demanding: you had an access ramp built just for you. I went and visited another opera house called Bastille. The stage there is much bigger than the one in your opera. There are workshops and studios that are almost as big. I was lucky enough to meet a sculptor and a shoemaker. The shoemaker has tools that you must not even know: a hydraulic press, a painting shop… I really liked the shoemaker and the sculptor because she spoke to us for two hours, even if it was long. Just a question: what job would you have wanted to do if you hadn’t been a soldier? Kindest regards.”

Nathan LEVY – Age 12 – Collège La Rochefoucauld – La Ferté-sous-Jouarre – Visit to the Palais Garnier

Letter to Charles Garnier

“Do you know that some years later, another opera house was built at the Place de la Bastille? It is very modern. I’m sorry to tell you this, but I prefer Bastille. Garnier is very, very beautiful. But for me, the atmosphere in your building is a little stern and I don’t like that feeling. However, I have to admit, when I went into the auditorium, I was awestruck by all the details, the gilt, the ceiling and the seats. But I found that the stage was a little small. Do you know the tale of the Phantom of the Opera? It’s a passionate love story which takes place in your opera house. I hope I will get to see an opera at Garnier. If I had been there on January 5th 1875, I would have given you my seat, since you weren’t lucky enough to be invited. Best regards.” 

Gwendoline MOMOGUENA – Age 12 – Collège La Rochefoucauld – La Ferté-sous-Jouarre – Visit to the Palais Garnier

Two events recently celebrated the anniversary of this educational programme: the Concert of Little Violins (Les Petits Violons) on June 04, 2016, and L’Homme qui ne savait pas mourir (The Man who didn’t know how to die) on June 17 and 18, 2016. These events gave the public a chance to meet these aspiring artists.

"I wish that, when the curtain fell, there was nothing, no noise, no lights and then suddenly, everyone would start applauding when the curtain rose again."

Gwendoline MOMOGUENA – Age 12 – Collège La Rochefoucauld – La Ferté-sous-Jouarre – The Barber of Seville (opéra)

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