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From the World Cup to Pelléas

Le Monde has been running a series of articles about classical music, quasi-reviews by cultural figures who are not musicians. In honor of the start of World Cup play, Renaud Machart put one of these together with Frédéric Thiriez, the president of the French Professional Soccer League since 2002. A skydiver, scuba diver, and mountain climber, Thiriez also loves music: he plays the cello, sings operetta, and acts. While he went to the World Cup in Johannesburg, of course, he has plans when he returns to attend one of the performances of Debussy's Pelléas et Mélisande at the Opéra-Comique in Paris. Here is part of the article (Au concert avec... Frédéric Thiriez, June 13) from Le Monde (my translation):
Music is a family affair for me: my grandfather played the violin, my grandmother the piano; my mother, Christine Fontane, was a pianist and was known as a composer. With my wife, a very good pianist, I am working through the repertory for the piano and cello, an instrument I took up at 40 years old, after having taught myself the piano. But my passion is for singing, which I do as an amateur. I am proud to be a part of Les Tréteaux Lyriques, a troupe of 45 members which has performed several pieces by Offenbach, including certain rarities like La Princesse de Trébizonde. I love comic opera and operetta, where song, acting, and dance are mixed together, and I wonder why it is despised in high cultural quarters, while every night that Les Tréteaux perform, we turn people away! So I am thrilled that Jérôme Deschamps has sparked a renaissance of the Opéra-Comique and its rich repertoire.
As it turns out, Thiriez has never seen Pelléas before, but he should enjoy this production directed by Stéphane Braunschweig and conducted by John Eliot Gardiner, which runs through June 29.

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