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20.3.06

Next Year in Paris

This weekend, the Opéra national de Paris made the official announcement of its 2006-2007 season. I did not attend the ceremony, a major media event, but I have come into possession of the booklet published for the occasion. As expected, Gérard Mortier has put together an exciting season, all the more reason for me to move to Paris as quickly as possible. There are new productions a-plenty, three of the most daring listed separately in a unique category, Frontières. George Benjamin (b. 1960) will have the world premiere (November 2006) of his Into the Little Hill, commissioned by the Festival d'Automne and the Opéra national de Paris. It is an original text by Martin Crimp, set for two voices (soprano Anu Komsi and contralto Hilary Summers) and the Ensemble Modern. Emir Kusturica (b. 1954) will direct the world premiere (June 2007) of his new punk opera, Le Temps des Gitans (The time of the gypsies), performed by the No Smoking Orchestra and the Garbage Serbian Philharmonia. In the ballet part of things, the Opéra national de Paris will present for the first time in its history the ballet of Roland Petit, Proust ou les intermittences du cœur (1974), whose scenario is drawn from Marcel Proust's sprawling novel À la recherche du temps perdu, with music by Beethoven and Wagner and a host of composers the author and narrator admired, Debussy, Fauré, Franck, Reynaldo Hahn, and Saint-Saëns.

In May 2007, the Klangforum Wien will present the new piece commissioned by the Opéra national de Paris, Salvatore Sciarrino's Da gelo a gelo (From winter to winter), ten scenes and sixty-five poems, in Italian, drawn from the journal of Izumi Shikibu, the 11th-century Japanese writer. I am equally excited about the pairing (January 2007) of an opera I love, Béla Bartók's Bluebeard's Castle, with a work by Leoš Janáček that I don't know but would probably love, Le Journal d'un disparu, a song cycle of twenty-two poems for tenor and alto with a chorus of women's voice. The original piano accompaniment has been arranged for orchestra by Gustav Kuhn, who will conduct this staged production, directed by the always challenging leaders of La Fura dels Baus. I don't know about you, but I can never get enough of the operas of Janáček, so Krzysztof Warlokowski's new production of The Makropoulos Affair is also attractive, planned for April and May 2007.

There are plenty of old favorites, perhaps none more welcome than one of my favorite Verdi operas, Simon Boccanegra (1881), a revival of Johan Simons' staging set for April and May 2007. Dmitri Hvorostovsky will sing the title role, with Roberto Alagna as Gabriele Adorno (for all but two performances) and a singer I much admired last summer in Santa Fe, Ana María Martínez, as Maria Boccanegra. I think that is what you would call un casting d'enfer. (Ana María Martínez will also appear as Donna Elvira, with Gerald Finley and Christine Schäfer, in Don Giovanni in January and February 2007.) Natalie Dessay will sing the title role in Lucia di Lammermoor (September and October 2006), and Anna Caterina Antonacci will sing Vitellia in La Clemenza di Tito at the same time. Neil Shicoff will sing again in an opera whose title we should probably just change to Neil Shicoff, Halévy's La Juive (February and March 2007).

For work from exciting directors, Patrice Chéreau will do something with another Mozart opera, Così fan tutte (October and November 2006), with Ruggiero Raimondi as Don Alfonso, and Laurent Pelly will do something with Donizetti's L'Elisir d'amore at the same time. Robert Carsen's staging of Offenbach's Les Contes d'Hoffmann comes back in January and February 2007, and so does his production of Wagner's Lohengrin, with Valery Gergiev at the podium and Ben Heppner, Mireille Delunsch, and Waltraud Meier (May and June 2007). Two worthy operas will be revived in Prokofiev's Love of Three Oranges (November and December 2006), in Gilbert Deflo's previous staging, and Berlioz's monumental Les Troyens, in a new production by a team of directors, based on the work of Herbert Wernicke (October and November 2006). I would not mind seeing the new production of Charpentier's Louise (1900) either, with Mireille Delunsch in the title role (March and April 2007).

Mozart up, Shostakovich down. The former receives a fourth production, Idomeneo, with a dream team of singers including Ramon Vargas, Joyce DiDonato, Mireille Delunsch, and Thomas Moser (November and December 2006). Poor Shostakovich gets nothing. There are two operas for Strauss, Der Rosenkavalier with Anne Schwanewilms and Franz Hawlata (December 2006) and Salome (September and October 2006). Verdi does not fare poorly either, with three operas rounded out by new productions of Un Ballo in Maschera, staged by Gilbert Deflo (June and July 2007), and La Traviata, with Christine Schäfer as Violetta, at the same time.

2 comments:

Guthry Trojan said...

Unfortunately your link to the charming Anna Maria Martinez seems to be broken.
I too am an admirer after working with her some years ago on a Spanish Opera recording.
Bienvenue a Paris

Charles T. Downey said...

Guthry, thanks for pointing out that broken link. It should be fixed now. Thanks, too, for the interesting note on this talented singer and for the word of welcome. It's good to be back.