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Notes from France

Here are a couple recent notices from the French newspapers that I should have mentioned earlier. The first is an article (L'Ensemble intercontemporain, trente ans d'avant-garde, March 18) by Renaud Machart about the concert commemorating the 30th anniversary of the Ensemble Intercontemporain, for Le Monde (my translation):

Thanks to the friendship between [founder Pierre] Boulez and President Georges Pompidou, [the EIC] was associated with the sound department of the Centre Pompidou, inaugurated in 1977, the Institut de recherches et coordination acoustique/musique (Ircam). For 30 years, the ensemble has been associated with research undertaken by composers in the area of sound transformed by electronics and computers. Comfortably funded by public money and benefitting from permanent residence in the Cité de la musique in Paris, the Ensemble Intercontemporain enjoys a privileged and unique position that makes it the envy of all similar ensembles in the world.
Opéra-Comique, ParisAs noted here, Susanna Mälkki was appointed as the group's director in 2005. The other article (Jérôme Deschamps dévoile le programme de l'Opéra-Comique, March 23) is by Marie-Aude Roux, about the programming for the next season at the Opéra-Comique in Paris. The new director of that house, Jérôme Deschamps, will officially begin his 5-year term of office on July 1, and this is his inaugural season. He has pledged to undo the plans of his predecessor, Jérôme Savary, who combined short operatic productions with long-running spectacles, usually music theater. The new season strikes me as the most exciting to come out of the Opéra-Comique in a long time. The article was published in Le Monde (my translation):
With a total budget of 15 million euro, covering both the runnings costs and the artistic budget (some 7.5 million euro, half of which comes from ticket revenue), Jérôme Deschamps has put together five theatrical productions, including three premieres, essentially devoted to French opera. Two of them will be directed by himself and Macha Makeïeff: Emmanuel Chabrier's L'Etoile (December 13 to 23), conducted by John Eliot Gardiner; and Ferdinand Hérold's Zampa (March 10 to 21, 2008), directed by William Christie. These two early music conductors are supposed to conduct a new production each year as associate artists.

French Baroque opera will be represented by Lully's Cadmus et Hermione (January 21 to 27), entrusted to the team of the celebrated Bourgeois gentilhomme in 2004, the musician Vincent Dumestre and the director Benjamin Lazar. But the programming also takes in contemporary opera with Pascal Dusapin's Roméo et Juliette from 1989 (April 28 to May 5, 2008), conducted by the young, rising French conductor Alain Altinoglu, in a staging by Ludovic Lagarde. Finally, summer will see the love story of Gershwin's Porgy and Bess (June 2 to 20, 2008), in an American production by Robyn Orlin and conductor Wayne Marshall.
The only disappointment as I see it is that Marc Minkowski, who was reportedly under consideration for the post that Deschamps will take over in July, is not on the roster as originally announced.

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