Emma Birski / OnP

Opera

New

A Quiet Place

By Leonard Bernstein and Stephen Wadsworth, adaptation de 2013

Palais Garnier

from 09 to 30 March 2022

1h35 no interval

A Quiet Place

Palais Garnier - from 09 to 30 March 2022

Synopsis

A Quiet Place, composed in 1983 by Leonard Bernstein and reworked in 1986, was conceived as a sequel to Trouble in Tahiti. Three decades later, we re-encounter Sam, a failed father rejected by his two children. Dinah, his wife, has just died in a car accident and the family have gathered for her funeral. The pain of mourning reveals unspoken wounds. This work, deeply rooted in the society of the era and its accompanying taboos, is the last opera by a composer who constantly sought to renew operatic forms. A new version, adapted by Garth Edwin Sunderland, was premiered in concert version in 2013 under the baton of Kent Nagano. The opera is being brought to the stage for the first time, and the Paris Opera has entrusted this project to Krzysztof Warlikowski, who focuses the story around the family and its secrets.

Duration : 1h35 no interval

Language : American English

Surtitle : French / English

  • Opening

  • First part 95 min

  • End

Show acts

Detail of acts

Prologue 
A fast-moving car goes off the road and flips over. Some of the witnesses who run over think they recognise the woman behind the wheel. Dinah, in her fifties, married with two adult children, dies.

Act I
A small group of relatives and friends gather for Dinah’s funeral: the family doctor and his wife, the deceased’s last psychoanalyst, Susie, her long-time friend, her brother Bill. In awkward conversations/ asides the guests also mention that Dinah’s drinking might have caused the accident. Dinah’s husband Sam seems absent and petrified. Everyone is waiting for the dead woman’s children, who will arrive from afar. Her son Junior has been living in Canada for over ten years. Her daughter Dede followed him there when she came of age. Both live with François, initially Junior’s lover, and now Dede’s husband. This is the first time they are returning to the place where they grew up. Their contact with their father has been severed over the years. When Dede and François finally arrive, they are stared at curiously. Sam maintains a guarded attitude towards his daughter and son‑in‑law. As time is short, the ceremony begins without Junior. He bursts in – inappropriately dressed for the event – just as the guests are reading psalms and poems. After the ceremony Sam’s bitterness towards his children erupts: Furious, he blames them for reappearing after all this time and dishonouring the memory of their mother. Junior reacts by performing a striptease next to the open coffin and declares his father responsible for his mother’s death. The situation deteriorates. Everyone disperses. Junior is left alone in a disturbed state.

Act II
Late at night after the funeral, unable to sleep, Sam goes through Dinah’s private affairs. In her diaries he reads how unhappy she was with him for many years. He finds a sealed letter, vaguely addressed to posterity, but he does not read it and also hides it from Dede, who is attempting to have a conversation with her father. When Dede tries on one of her mother’s dresses, Sam is disconcerted: he thinks he sees the young Dinah from the early years of their marriage. Father and daughter rediscover a sense of closeness. At the same time, François asks Junior to explain his provocative attitude at the funeral ceremony. With a mixture of bewilderment and ironic wordplay, Junior tries to win François’ affection. François violently rejects Junior’s attempts to grow closer. When Junior claims that, as a child, he had an intimate relationship with his younger sister and was almost killed by his father as a punishment, François declares that this is one of Junior’s neurotic fantasies. With the help of François, Junior describes a traumatic childhood memory: a Christmas party that culminated in violence between his parents. François manages to get Junior to fall asleep. Afterwards, he returns to Dede and tells her that he has finally understood how much she means to him. Sam suddenly feels concern and tenderness for Junior, but he cannot express his feelings for his son. He reads Dinah’s letter.

Act III
The next morning, Dede wakes up confused. She wants to make her mother’s garden, neglected for many years, bloom again. At breakfast she persuades Junior to stay on a few more days in order to do so. Brother and sister play some of their childhood games again. François and Sam join them to play tag. When François finds himself in Sam’s arms, the latter emotionally welcomes him into the family to everyone. The letter turns out to be a farewell one, the accident a suicide. In a brief message, Dinah begs her loved ones to accept her decision and encourages them to embrace life and accept each other unconditionally. When Sam adds that the letter was accompanied by Christmas cakes, the general tension is released in a great burst of laughter. Sam begs his children to stay with him for a few days. For a while, everyone is excited at the idea of living together again. But when the question arises as to who is going to stay with whom and in which room, jealousies and old wounds come to the surface. François blames Dede and Junior for only ever seeing their own moods and for not understanding the significance of Dinah’s suicide. He tears up Dinah’s letter. Everyone picks up bits of her message. Junior cautiously makes Sam understand how small and helpless he sometimes feels and how much he needs him. Sam promises to be there for Junior. Dede lets François make a choice. For a while, each of them finds support in the other.

Miron Hakenbeck

Artists

French premiere

Opera in a prologue and three acts

Creative team

Cast

Orchestre et Choeurs de l’Opéra national de Paris
World premiere of the new orchestration for full orchestra

En accord avec la société Editions Durand, représentée par Maya Campesato en sa qualité d'agent représentant de Boosey & Hawkes Music Publishers Limited, agent exclusif de Leonard Bernstein Music Publishing Company LLC, éditeur.
@ 1983, 1988 par Amberson Holdings LLC et Stephen Wadsworth Zinsser, Adaptation @ 2013, 2022

A Quiet Place will be broadcast on France Musique on April 23 at 8pm in the program "Samedi à l'Opéra", presented by Judith Chaine.

Media

  • Draw-me A Quiet Place

    Draw-me A Quiet Place

    Watch the video

  • Podcast A Quiet Place

    Podcast A Quiet Place

    Listen the podcast

  • Genius or headstrong?

    Genius or headstrong?

    Watch the video

Draw-me A Quiet Place

Watch the video

Understand the plot in 1 minute

1:44 min

Draw-me A Quiet Place

By Octave

A Quiet Place, composed in 1983 by Leonard Bernstein and reworked in 1986, was conceived as a sequel to Trouble in Tahiti. Three decades later, we re-encounter Sam, a failed father rejected by his two children. Dinah, his wife, has just died in a car accident and the family have gathered for her funeral. The pain of mourning reveals unspoken wounds. This work, deeply rooted in the society of the era and its accompanying taboos, is the last opera by a composer who constantly sought to renew operatic forms. A new version, adapted by Garth Edwin Sunderland, was premiered in concert version in 2013 under the baton of Kent Nagano. The opera is being brought to the stage for the first time, and the Paris Opera has entrusted this project to Krzysztof Warlikowski, who focuses the story around the family and its secrets.  


Playlist

© Bernd Uhlig / OnP

Podcast A Quiet Place

Listen the podcast

"Dance! Sing! 7 minutes at the Paris Opera" - by France Musique

07 min

Podcast A Quiet Place

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.

© Vincent Pontet / OnP

Genius or headstrong?

Watch the video

Interview with Kent Nagano

5:53 min

Genius or headstrong?

By Solène Souriau

On the occasion of the premiere of A Quiet Place at the Palais Garnier, conductor Kent Nagano looks back on his discussions with Leonard Bernstein about the work and the musical forms with which the composer experimented. He also discusses the universal theme of family conflict running through the opera.  

Playlist

  • [TRAILER] A QUIET PLACE by Leonard Bernstein et Stephen Wadsworth
  • [EXTRAIT] A QUIET PLACE by Leonard Bernstein (Claudia Boyle & Gordon Bintner)
  • [EXTRAIT] A QUIET PLACE by Leonard Bernstein (Gordon Bintner)
  • [EXTRAIT] A QUIET PLACE by Leonard Bernstein (Frédéric Antoun)
  • A Quiet Place (saison 21/22) - Ouverture

  • A Quiet Place (saison 21/22) - (Gordon Bintner)

  • A Quiet Place (saison 21/22) - (Gordon Bintner)

  • A Quiet Place (saison 21/22) - (Frédéric Antoun)

  • A Quiet Place (saison 21/22) - (Frédéric Antoun)

  • A Quiet Place (saison 21/22) - (Claudia Boyle)

  • A Quiet Place 21 - 22 - Postlude Acte I

Access and services

Palais Garnier

Place de l'Opéra

75009 Paris

Public transport

Underground Opéra (lignes 3, 7 et 8), Chaussée d’Antin (lignes 7 et 9), Madeleine (lignes 8 et 14), Auber (RER A)

Bus 20, 21, 27, 29, 32, 45, 52, 66, 68, 95, N15, N16

Calculate my route
Car park

Q-Park Edouard VII16 16, rue Bruno Coquatrix 75009 Paris

Book your parking spot

At the Palais Garnier, buy €10 tickets for seats in the 6th category (very limited visibility, two tickets maximum per person) on the day of the performance at the Box offices.

In both our venues, discounted tickets are sold at the box offices from 30 minutes before the show:

  • €35 tickets for under-28s, unemployed people (with documentary proof less than 3 months old) and senior citizens over 65 with non-taxable income (proof of tax exemption for the current year required)
  • €70 tickets for senior citizens over 65

Get samples of the operas and ballets at the Paris Opera gift shops: programmes, books, recordings, and also stationery, jewellery, shirts, homeware and honey from Paris Opera.

Palais Garnier
  • Every day from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. and until performances end
  • Get in from Place de l’Opéra or from within the theatre’s public areas
  • For more information: +33 1 53 43 03 97

Palais Garnier

Place de l'Opéra

75009 Paris

Public transport

Underground Opéra (lignes 3, 7 et 8), Chaussée d’Antin (lignes 7 et 9), Madeleine (lignes 8 et 14), Auber (RER A)

Bus 20, 21, 27, 29, 32, 45, 52, 66, 68, 95, N15, N16

Calculate my route
Car park

Q-Park Edouard VII16 16, rue Bruno Coquatrix 75009 Paris

Book your parking spot

At the Palais Garnier, buy €10 tickets for seats in the 6th category (very limited visibility, two tickets maximum per person) on the day of the performance at the Box offices.

In both our venues, discounted tickets are sold at the box offices from 30 minutes before the show:

  • €35 tickets for under-28s, unemployed people (with documentary proof less than 3 months old) and senior citizens over 65 with non-taxable income (proof of tax exemption for the current year required)
  • €70 tickets for senior citizens over 65

Get samples of the operas and ballets at the Paris Opera gift shops: programmes, books, recordings, and also stationery, jewellery, shirts, homeware and honey from Paris Opera.

Palais Garnier
  • Every day from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. and until performances end
  • Get in from Place de l’Opéra or from within the theatre’s public areas
  • For more information: +33 1 53 43 03 97

Partners

  • With the support of The American Friends of the Paris Opera & Ballet

Media and technical partners

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