Directors, ballet masters, stage directors, choreographers, architects, ... Octave discovers the personalities that have marked the history of the Opera which continues to attract the great names of music and dance.
Born in Paris to a Swiss soldier in the service of the French Crown, Jean-Georges Noverre studied dance with Louis Dupré and made his debut under the latter’s guidance in 1743 at the Opéra-Comique in Paris. Soon thereafter, he became a ballet master, first in Versailles where he danced for Louis XV, and then in London, Berlin and Lyon. From there, he moved to the Court of Duke Eugen of Württemberg where, in 1763, he premiered his grand action ballet Médée et Jason. His fame grew exponentially and over the next half-century, Noverre would create almost a hundred works, notably in Stuttgart and Vienna where he enjoyed his greatest successes. Noverre returned to Paris in 1775 where Marie-Antoinette, who was his dance pupil in Vienna, appointed him Ballet Master at the Académie Royale de Musique—a position he held from 1776 to 1781. Whilst there, he revived Médée et Jason and collaborated with Mozart for Les Petits Riens (1778). Noverre resigned from the Académie Royale to go to London where he took refuge during the Revolution and then finally returned to France. His Lettres sur la danse et sur les ballets, published in 1760, are testimony to his avant-gardist vision of ballet, which he strove to have considered as an art in its own right through the linking of music, sets and direction. But more than anything else, Noverre stands out for the introduction of mime, which allowed dance to become an integral part of the action.