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18.1.08

Les Journaux

Art and music news from the European press.

A new opera by Thierry Pécou (b. 1965), Les Sacrifiées (The sacrificed women), was premiered on January 12 at the Maison de la musique in Nanterre, as reviewed by Pierre Gervasoni ("Les Sacrifiées", fable lyrique contemporaine, January 15) in Le Monde. The libretto, based on the play by Laurent Gaudé, tells the brutal story of three generations of women from Algeria. A woman named Raïssa is raped by French soldiers, and the stigmas attached to that tragedy ruin not only her but also her daughter and granddaughter. In recent years, Pécou's musical style has drawn heavily on exotic musical worlds, Mayan sources in Symphonie du Jaguar, China in Vague de pierre, and the Arctic in Nanouk l'esquimau. Algerian folk music is prominently featured in his new opera, as are expressionistic dissonances as signs of psychological trouble. The instrumental portion of the music was performed by the ensemble TM +. Subsequent performances are planned for the Grand Théâtre de Reims (January 18 and 19) and the Théâtre Silvia-Monfort in Paris (January 25 and 26).

Erik Dietman, the late Swedish artist, arrived in Paris in 1959 and quickly became associated with the Fluxus movement and the new realism. Philippe Dagen writes (Les inventions ironiques d'Erik Dietman, January 12) in Le Monde about a new Dietman retrospective. The exhibit at Galerie Claudine Papillon (through February 23) focuses exclusively on Dietman's work in the 1960s, a series of "ironic inventions, destructive trifles, and murderous parodies." The picture with the article is one of his darkly ironic sculptures, a cuddly teddy bear bending over and pointing to its ass: when you go to look, the image of a skull awaits you.

Add Philippe Jaroussky to the list of singers we are hoping to hear live soon. The countertenor is growing in popularity in Europe, having recently appeared on the evening news from France 2 and on Marc-Olivier Fogiel's program on M 6. Marie-Aude Roux published a profile (Jaroussky, une voix haute, January 12) in Le Monde recently, in advance of his 30th birthday on February 13. "To be sure," he says in his remarks to the author, "my repertoire is 90% that of the castrati. I have even pushed the similarity to the point of copying their excesses. I believe that my Scherza infida, from Handel's Ariodante, is one of the most ornamented versions. So much so that people criticized me for it." Upcoming projects include a new Vivaldi disc coming out on Naïve (Nisi dominus and Stabat mater), a recital of French mélodies, and on March 8 in Lyon, the premiere of a new song cycle composed for his voice by Marc-André Dalbavie on the sonnets of Louise Labé.

A new exhibit at the Hôtel de Ville in Paris, Paris en couleurs (through March 31) received a substantial review (Paris a aussi été saisi en couleur par les grands photographes, January 11) by Claire Guillot in Le Monde. In celebration of the centenary of the first commercial color photographic process (autochrome, invented in 1907 by the Lumière brothers), it is a series of color images of the city of Paris, a city that many may tend to think of in black and white. The Web site has a video and lots of pictures, but if you are in Paris, this exhibit is free, which is not very common in Paris.

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