Opera

New

La Vestale

Gaspare Spontini

Opéra Bastille

from 15 June to 11 July 2024

from €32 to €200

3h20 with 2 intervals

Some scenes of a violent nature may upset sensitive audiences.

La Vestale

Opéra Bastille - from 15 June to 11 July 2024

Synopsis

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Julia, a priestess in the Temple of Vesta, is torn between her religious duties and her love for the Roman general Licinius. This is the crux of La Vestale, Gaspare Spontini’s opera, written at the beginning of the First Empire.

Dedicated to Josephine and multiplying political allusions to Napoleon, the work was a triumph from its first performance at the Paris Opera in 1807. Admired by Berlioz, the score features brilliant orchestration and a sustained lyrical vocal style that heralds grand opera while remaining true to the legacy of Gluck.

After remaining absent from the Paris Opera for almost 150 years, the return of this work in its original French version is an eagerly awaited event. Stage director Lydia Steier explores the themes of religious extremism and militaristic zeal: can love have any hope of surviving between these two ruthless extremes?

Duration : 3h20 with 2 intervals

Language : French

Surtitle : French / English

Show acts and characters

CHARACTERS

Julia: Vestal, priestess in the temple of the goddess Vesta
Licinius: Roman general, Julia’s lover
Cinna: Army commander, friend of Licinius
The Sovereign Pontiff: High priest of Vesta
The Great Vestal: Head priestess of the vestals
Chief of the aruspices: Soothsayer priest
A Consul: Roman magistrate

First part

Act 1:
Licinius has returned home from the war as a victorious Roman general. He encounters Cinna who wants to know why he is so sad. Licinius confesses that he is in love with Julia and that five years previously he was unable to prove to her father that he was worthy of her. It was to improve his situation that he joined the army. After his return he learned that Julia was forced to promise her father on his deathbed that she would become a Vestal Virgin and preserve her chastity. Cinna agrees to help Licinius and the two men reaffirm their friendship.

The Vestal Virgins sing to their goddess and the eternal flame that they guard in the temple. The Great Vestal condemns to death every virgin who breaks her vow of chastity. To celebrate Rome’s victory in the war she announces a triumphal procession. Julia is given the task of crowning Licinius with the “wreath of immortality”. Left alone, Julia is torn between her joy at seeing Licinius again and her fear of the consequences of her forbidden love.

During the festivities, the Great Vestal chooses Julia to guard the eternal flame in the coming night. Licinius hears about this and tells Julia of his plan to abduct her from the temple. A consul, the High Priest and the entire population celebrate the triumphant warrior.  

Second part

Act 2:
At night in the temple, Julia begs Vesta for mercy. She wishes to see Licinius one more time and then surrender herself to the gods’ vengeance. In front of the altar, Licinius and Julia swear their love in a fever of passion. The eternal flame goes out. Cinna enters the temple and tries to persuade Licinius to flee. But Licinius refuses to comply with either Cinna’s or Julia’s urgings to leave.

When voices are heard from outside, Licinius and Cinna depart. The people and the other Vestal Virgins swarm into the temple and condemn the crime that has been committed. The High Priest demands from Julia the name of the intruder, but she refuses to reveal it. He curses her and sentences her to death.

Third part

Act 3:
Cinna tells Licinius that he has put together a troop of legionnaires to assist him. Licinius tries unsuccessfully to persuade the High Priest to overturn the death sentenc and confesses that he is Julia’s lover. The Chief of the aruspices points out the gathering soldiers to the High Priest and recommends delaying the sacrifice. However, the High Priest rejects this idea. Before the death sentence is carried out, he has Julia’s veil placed on Vesta’s altar. If the veil catches fire it will mean that Vesta forgives her priestess. Licinius publicly admits that he is the guilty party and demands that Julia’s life be spared. But Julia pretends not to know him. Suddenly a storm breaks out, and a lightning bolt sets fire to Julia’s veil. The High Priest proclaims a miracle and Vesta’s forgiveness.  

Artists

Opera in three acts (1807)

Creative team

Cast

  • Wednesday 12 June 2024 at 19:00
  • Saturday 15 June 2024 at 19:00
  • Wednesday 19 June 2024 at 19:00
  • Sunday 23 June 2024 at 14:00
  • Wednesday 26 June 2024 at 19:00
  • Saturday 29 June 2024 at 19:00
  • Tuesday 02 July 2024 at 19:00
  • Friday 05 July 2024 at 19:00
  • Monday 08 July 2024 at 19:00
  • Thursday 11 July 2024 at 19:00

Latest update 15 June 2024, cast is likely to change.

Latest update 15 June 2024, cast is likely to change.

Latest update 15 June 2024, cast is likely to change.

Latest update 15 June 2024, cast is likely to change.

Latest update 15 June 2024, cast is likely to change.

Paris Opera Orchestra and Chorus

A recording of the opera will be made by Mathilde Jobbé-Duval and produced by the Paris Opera, with the support of the Fondation Orange, sponsor of the Paris Opera's audiovisual broadcasts.

Live broadcast on 29 June on Paris Opera Play, the Paris Opera's streaming platform, available in replay between September 9, 2024 and March 6, 2025 on OperaVision.

La Vestale will be broadcast on France Musique on Saturday September 21 at 8pm in the program "Samedi à l'Opéra" presented by Judith Chaine.

Media

[TEASER] LA VESTALE by Gaspare Spontini
[TEASER] LA VESTALE by Gaspare Spontini
  • Draw-me La Vestale

    Draw-me La Vestale

    Watch the video

  • Spontini's La Vestale, a great Napoleonic opera

    Spontini's La Vestale, a great Napoleonic opera

    Watch the video

  • Podcast La Vestale with France Musique

    Podcast La Vestale with France Musique

    Listen the podcast

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

    La Vestale: a prophetic opera - Interview with Lydia Steier

    Listen the podcast

Draw-me La Vestale

Watch the video

Understand the plot in 1 minute

1:17 min

Draw-me La Vestale

By Matthieu Pajot

Spontini's La Vestale, a great Napoleonic opera

Watch the video

Interview with Bertrand de Billy

7:33 min

Spontini's La Vestale, a great Napoleonic opera

By Marion Mirande

First performed in 1807 at the Paris Opera, Gaspare Spontini's La Vestale bridges worlds: the musical worlds of the Baroque, of Gluck and Mozart, with a modernity that heralds Romanticism, and the historical worlds of Roman antiquity and the Napoleonic Empire.

A work of fusion, a political work, ‘the first French grand opera’ according to Bertrand de Billy, who conducts it, in a new production directed by Lydia Steier. 

Podcast La Vestale with France Musique

Listen the podcast

Dance! Sing! Tales of Opera and Ballet

Podcast La Vestale with France Musique

By Charlotte Landru-Chandès

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.

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[LIVE] La Vestale


Saturday 29 June 2024, join us for a live performance on Paris Opera Play.

WATCH ONLINE Free trial 7 days

Access and services

Opéra Bastille

Place de la Bastille

75012 Paris

Public transport

Underground Bastille (lignes 1, 5 et 8), Gare de Lyon (RER)

Bus 29, 69, 76, 86, 87, 91, N01, N02, N11, N16

Calculate my route
Car park

Q-Park Opéra Bastille 34, rue de Lyon 75012 Paris

Book your parking spot
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Following Richard Strauss’s Salome in 2022, La Vestale is Lydia Steier’s second production at the Paris Opera, once again exploring the themes of male power and sexuality. The theocratic and military orders at play in Spontini’s work highlight structures based on relationships of domination and subjugation. This raises the question of an alternative, possibly embodied in love, that might triumph over these oppressive models.

BUY THE PROGRAM
  • Cloakrooms

    Free cloakrooms are at your disposal. The comprehensive list of prohibited items is available here.

  • Bars

    Reservation of drinks and light refreshments for the intervals is possible online up to 24 hours prior to your visit, or at the bars before each performance.

  • Parking

    You can park your car at the Q-Park Opéra Bastille. It is located at 34 rue de Lyon, 75012 Paris. 

    BOOK YOUR PARKING PLACE.

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.

Opéra Bastille
  • Open 1h before performances and until performances end
  • Get in from within the theatre’s public areas
  • For more information: +33 1 40 01 17 82

Opéra Bastille

Place de la Bastille

75012 Paris

Public transport

Underground Bastille (lignes 1, 5 et 8), Gare de Lyon (RER)

Bus 29, 69, 76, 86, 87, 91, N01, N02, N11, N16

Calculate my route
Car park

Q-Park Opéra Bastille 34, rue de Lyon 75012 Paris

Book your parking spot
super alt text
super alt text
super alt text
super alt text
super alt text
super alt text
super alt text
super alt text
super alt text
super alt text

Following Richard Strauss’s Salome in 2022, La Vestale is Lydia Steier’s second production at the Paris Opera, once again exploring the themes of male power and sexuality. The theocratic and military orders at play in Spontini’s work highlight structures based on relationships of domination and subjugation. This raises the question of an alternative, possibly embodied in love, that might triumph over these oppressive models.

BUY THE PROGRAM
  • Cloakrooms

    Free cloakrooms are at your disposal. The comprehensive list of prohibited items is available here.

  • Bars

    Reservation of drinks and light refreshments for the intervals is possible online up to 24 hours prior to your visit, or at the bars before each performance.

  • Parking

    You can park your car at the Q-Park Opéra Bastille. It is located at 34 rue de Lyon, 75012 Paris. 

    BOOK YOUR PARKING PLACE.

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.

Opéra Bastille
  • Open 1h before performances and until performances end
  • Get in from within the theatre’s public areas
  • For more information: +33 1 40 01 17 82

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3 min

La Vestale

Spontini’s La Vestale, the true/false story

A story of commitment, faith and burning love… Can you untangle this true/false synopsis of Spontini’s opera La Vestale? Ready? Go!

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