Patrice Chéreau collaborates with Pierre Boulez again in 1979: seven years after directing Frank Wedekind's play at the theatre, Chéreau sets to work on the unabridged version of Alban Berg’s Lulu. Since the orchestration of the third act was still unfinished at the time of Berg’s death, the opera has yet to be performed in its entirety. Thanks to the diligent efforts of the composer Friedrich Cerha, who completes the score, audiences at the Palais Garnier are able to discover the tragic fate of Lulu, doomed to die as a fugitive and a prostitute in London, at the hands of Jack the Ripper.
In this production, Chéreau re-examines the myth of the destructive yet innocent femme fatale who “allows herself to become a vessel for the dreams of men, the nightmares of the male sex”. Together with stage designer Richard Peduzzi, whom he meets in 1967 and with whom he will collaborate throughout his career, he chooses to transpose the drama into the middle of the 1930s to better express the sense of danger and anxiety that haunts the play.
Five years later, Chéreau stages Lucio Silla, his first Mozart opera in Milan, Nanterre and Brussels. Fascinated by the extreme rigidity of opera seria, Patrice Chéreau seeks to cultivate the freedom within the genre's compositional constraints and conventions. If at first he imagines a cold, highly organised medium akin to Japanese Noh theatre, he ultimately urges the performers to express their altercations in his own characteristic manner.
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