The life of the House

A fresh look at season 15/16

By Octave 10 August 2016

© Eléna Bauer / OnP

The life of the House

During the summer break, we offer our readers a retrospective glaze on Stéphane Lissner’s first season at the Paris Opera. Chorus members, Ballet dancers, painter-decorators, machinists, couturiers in the Workshops… The Paris Opera staff teams were mobilized around the great projects of the season. Throwback on the institution’s key moments and precious crafts.

The life of the Company

The Ballet season was inaugurated, for the first time, by an exceptional Gala with a creation by Benjamin Millepied, a piece by George Balanchine and a grandiose Ballet Parade. A festive evening that brought together the Star dancers of the Company, who were immortalized during a photo shoot by photographer James Bort. The second edition of the opening Gala will take place next September, 24th with a creation by Canadian choreographer Crystal Pite, Blake Works I by William Forsythe and the Ballet Parade.

Among the important events of the Company’s life, this season was marked by the nomination of Aurélie Dupont as Director of Dance to succeed Benjamin Millepied and Star dancer Benjamin Pech’s retirement from the stage on the occasion of Jérôme Bel’s latest creation at the Palais Garnier.    

© Svetlana Loboff / OnP

Repertory company, the Paris Opera Ballet displayed its talent through major classic pieces. The revival of Giselle was an opportunity to reenact an ancestral tradition: the transportation on foot of the set’s painted canvasses while the sewing workshops were adjusting the romantic tutus using a very specific technique. Revivals offer opportunities to pass on traditional craftsmanship and know-how, as for the makeup for the Golden Idol in La Bayadère.

Alongside emblematic ballets, the dancers appropriated themselves new pieces with creations by Forsythe, McGregor or entries to the repertoire of works by Anne Teresa de Keersmaeker, Balanchine or Justin Peck. The American choreographer, in residency at the New York City Ballet, was making his Paris Opera debut this season. He will be back next season alongside Tino Sehgal, Crystal Pite and William Forsythe.

The life of the Orchestra and Chorus

The Paris Opera Ballet dancers and the Paris Opera Orchestra joined forces to undertake a major project, the creation of Iolanta/Casse-Noisette, directed by Dmitri Tcherniakov and choreographed by Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui, Edouard Lock and Arthur Pita. Combining genres, opera and ballet, Tcherniakov was wary of not isolating them with an intermission: “it’s one and the same show, one and the same story where ballet takes over what has been said and heard in the opera.” The stage director, who likes reviving Russian works, will return next season for a new production of Snegourotchka by Rimski-Korsakov.

For the members of the Paris Opera Chorus, one of the season’s highpoints was undoubtedly Moses und Aron, Schönberg’s immense work, which took several months of rehearsal to prepare. Other operas such as Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg, La Damnation de Faust or yet again La Traviata brought together the Paris Opera Chorus and Orchestra for the audience’s delight and amazement up to the exceptional concert given for on Music Festival’s Day on June 21st

© Elena Bauer / OnP

Hardly ever under the spotlights, a sextet of Paris Opera Orchestra musicians had the opportunity to take part in an operatic production, partaking fully in Robert Carsen’s stage direction for Capriccio.

The life of the Academy

Season 15/16 saw the official birth of the Paris Opera Academy whose mission is to transmit, form and create by welcoming for example students and resident artists, giving them opportunities to meet professionals and learn in contact with them. Rigoletto, directed by Claus Guth, was an occasion for young musicians and singers to work with the Paris Opera Orchestra while Mireille Ordinaire, resident stage director, could work on adapting a young audience program with the French creation of The Way Back Home in a production by Katie Mitchell and participate in a new production of L’Orfeo by Monteverdi, considered to be the first opera in musical history, both shows performed by singers of the Paris Opera Academy.

© Agathe Poupeney / OnP
Lastly, the pedagogical program “Ten Months of School and Opera” celebrated its 25th birthday this season. Two shows marked this anniversary year: the “Petits Violons” concert on June 4th and L’Homme qui ne savait pas mourir (The Man Who Didn’t Know How To Die) on June 17th and 18th, testifying once more of the enthusiasm with which the young participants explore the musical and choreographical world. 

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