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1.12.04

Happy 80th, Georges Prêtre!

I meant to post on this on Saturday, but the pileup of other posts and pre-Christmas musical commitments has delayed it until now. Although I haven't seen any mention in the English-language press, France celebrated on Saturday, November 27, the 80th birthday of legendary conductor Georges Prêtre. I read about this first in the little article (Le grand Chef Georges Prêtre fête ses 80 ans, November 23) from Agence France-Press (by way of France 2). France Musiques had a day-long program of homages to Prêtre, including a live broadcast of the tribute concert by the Orchestre National de France at the Théâtre des Champs-Elysées à Paris:

On the evening's program was French tenor Roberto Alagna, who will perform some scores of Georges Prêtre, composer: Chanson d'une opérettte, another song (Don Juan est mort), and Hommage à Coluche, with Patrick Bruel. The other pieces planned give witness to the eclecticism of Georges Prêtre, the conductor: the overture of Johann Strauss's Die Fledermaus, the first suite of waltzes from Richard Strauss's Der Rosenkavalier, Ravel's Boléro, Gershwin's An American in Paris, the slow movement from Poulenc's Concerto for Two Pianos, with soloists Gabriel Tacchino and Roger Boutry. The Italian soprano Patrizia Ciofi will also sing the barcarolle from Offenbach's Les Contes d'Hoffmann and a Verdi duet ["Parigi, o cara" from La Traviata] with Roberto Alagna.
France Musiques also aired an interview by Alain Pâris with Georges Prêtre, EMI has released a double CD with excerpts of Prêtre's favorite pieces, from seven different orchestras conducted by him. The ONF concert was reviewed, most admirably, by Simon Corley for ConcertNet.com, as well as by Agence France-Presse, which said that the public ovation was wildly enthusiastic.

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