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11.9.05

New Direction at the Opéra-Comique

There's change afoot on the Paris opera scene. An article by Renaud Machart and Marie-Aude Roux (Jérôme Deschamps succédera à Jérôme Savary à la tête de l'Opéra-Comique, September 9) in Le Monde announces that Jérôme Deschamps will replace Jérôme Savary as the director of the Opéra-Comique. Last year, the French government took over the Opéra-Comique and made it into a national public theater. At that time, the sitting director was told he would have to retire at age 65, which will happen in 2007. His successor was appointed by the Minister of Culture, and he will officially take responsibility for next year's season. Deschamps was not considered the leading candidate (my translation):

Christian Schirm, a close friend of the former director of the Opéra de Paris, Hugues Gall, and Jacques Hédoin, who worked for a long time in tandem with Jean-Pierre Brossmann, seemed to be more likely. Marc Minkowski's candidacy had several advantages as far as the portfolio of duties established by the Ministry. [...] Still, Jérôme Deschamps is no newcomer to the world of opera. He has notably brought off a major public success with the stagings codirected by his wife Macha Makeïeff of Offenbach's The Brigands, at the Opéra National de Paris, of Mozart's Abduction from the Seraglio at the Festival d'Aix-en-Provence, and of Shostakovich's Moscow: Cherry Tree Towers at the Opéra National de Lyon [see my post from December 22, 2004].
Deschamps's charge is to move the Opéra-Comique away from music theater and back to comic opera, which was its original repertoire, and most interesting from my point of view, toward more Baroque opera. Deschamps mentioned his desire to bring several conductors there for new productions, including William Christie, John Eliot Gardiner, and Marc Minkowski. The government is apparently going to increase the institution's budget, so things look very good indeed. There was also a brief article in English (Actor and Director Jérôme Deschamps Named Director of Paris's Opéra-Comique, September 9) by Emily Quinn for PlaybillArts on this news.

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