martes, 25 de septiembre de 2018


The Palais Garnier, the 19th-century home of the Paris Opera. Founded in 1669, the opera once performed mainly at the Palace of Versailles and the Palais Royal.CreditCreditJulien Mignot for The New York Times
By Alan Riding

PARIS — As trumpets sound the opening bars of Berlioz’s “Marche des Troyens,” first one, then more tiny heads appear on the horizon, a good 150 feet from the orchestra pit. Gradually, lines of young girls in tutus come walking with balletic grace toward the 2,100-strong audience in the Palais Garnier, the 19th-century home of the Paris Opera.

The “Défilé du Ballet,” or the Ballet Parade, has begun.

Following custom, this 20-minute ritual involving no fewer than 250 dancers, will open the Paris Opera Ballet season on Sept. 27. The evening’s main performance will be the Israeli choreographer Ohad Naharin’s work “Decadance,” followed by a gala dinner for 800 guests in the theater’s glittering Grand Foyer, overlooking the Place de l’Opéra.

Still, even for gala regulars, the “défilé” is often the highlight of the evening. To achieve a dramatic perspective, the back stage is opened to reveal the Foyer de la Danse, a heavily gilded room where wealthy patrons once gathered to meet — and hopefully win over — young ballerinas. But since the first parade in 1926, the foyer has been its point of departure.

It opens with students of the Paris Opera’s Ballet School, ages 8 to 18, leading ballerinas of the dance company itself, climaxing with the sweeping curtsies of the principals, or “étoiles.” Then come the boys, opening the way for the male corps de ballet and the company’s soloists. Finally, the principals take their bows before calling everyone onstage for a final magical tableau vivant.

While, say, the Metropolitan Opera and the Teatro alla Scala organize splashy openings for their opera seasons, here the honors are left to the dancers. Yet, over the coming 16 months, the Paris Opera will have ample occasion for Champagne-popping as it celebrates the 350th anniversary of its founding by Louis XIV on June 28, 1669.

The Paris Opera Ballet and pupils from the ballet school on stage last year following the “Défilé du Ballet,” or Ballet Parade, that takes place at the first show of the season.CreditJulien Benhamou/OnP

Under the grander name of the Académie Royale de Musique, although even then inseparable from ballet, it performed mainly at the Palace of Versailles and the Palais Royal in Paris. But when the 1789 revolution put the royal palaces out of the music business, performances soon resumed, first in the Salle Montansier in 1794, then from 1821 at the Salle Le Peletier.

A new chapter began in 1858 when a failed attempt to kill Napoleon III outside Le Peletier prompted him to order the architect Charles Garnier to build an opera house with a discreet side entrance to ensure his safety. But he never used it: He was chased from power four years before the Palais Garnier opened in 1875.
The Paris Opera has yet another date to celebrate next year: the 30th anniversary of the opening of the Opéra Bastille, the ultramodern theater commissioned by President François Mitterrand for the bicentennial of the French Revolution. Today, most ballets are performed at the Palais Garnier and most operas at the larger Bastille, with its 2,745 seats.
For the anniversary program through December 2019, then, both distant and recent past are represented. “Today, the Paris Opera is the depository of this heritage, responsible for making it live, grow and develop and in no way conserving it as a museum piece,” Stéphane Lissner, the Paris Opera’s director, wrote in an introduction to the season’s program.
“I have chosen the slogan for the anniversary, ‘Modern since 1669,’” he explained in a later interview. “I want operas which through musical and theatrical interpretation are linked to the world we live in. Interpretations have changed over the years, but the arrival of men of theater has allowed directors to reflect on the great subjects of society today.”

“Les Huguenots” will be performed at the Opera Bastille from Sept. 25 to Oct. 24. From left, Bryan Hymel (Raoul de Nangi); Andreas Kriegenburg, the director; and Lisette Oropesa (Marguerite de Valois).CreditE. Bauer/OnP

New operas on this scale seem unlikely today, though curiously, with the exception of John Adams, even contemporary composers often seek inspiration in the past. Such is the case with the one 21st-century creation planned for this season, “Bérénice” by the Swiss composer Michael Jarrell, who has adapted his libretto from Racine’s play, itself set in Roman times.

Mr. Jordan is excited to be conducting “Bérénice,” his first creation in 10 years at the Paris Opera. “I have read the score but it is not a score you can read easily,” he said. “Jarrell writes complex yet very sensual music and he also used a clear theatrical language. I’d call him an atmospheric composer.”

Whether for new operas or for well-honed favorites, Mr. Lissner strongly believes in reaching out to new audiences. And to achieve this, he has lowered at least one barrier: that of ticket prices. Through special performances and cut-price promotions aimed at families, 11 percent of the 859,434 spectators in the 2016-17 season were under the age of 28, according to the Paris Opera.

Audiences for dance, though, are younger than those for opera — an average age of 43 compared with 48. And that may reflect ballet’s greater success in modernizing itself. Thus, while the new program includes works by Jerome Robbins, Martha Graham and Rudolf Nureyev, it is dominated by living choreographers, among them John Neumeier, William Forsythe, Mats Ek, Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker and Mr. Naharin.

For a similar contemporary buzz, operagoers look to stars. And through December 2019, they can enjoy the tenors Jonas Kaufmann, Roberto Alagna and Vittorio Grigolo; the mezzo-soprano Elina Garanca; and the sopranos Sonya Yoncheva and Pretty Yende. Further, the Russian diva Anna Netrebko will accompany her husband, the tenor Yusif Eyvazov, at the Paris Opera’s 350th birthday gala in May.

That too will be an occasion to remember how it all started. Today, France is a republic and the Académie Royale de Musique has become the Académie Nationale de Musique. But embroidered above the Palais Garnier’s thick velvet curtain is the critical date: Anno 1669. The coming feast of opera and ballet will be a fitting tribute to the Sun King’s vision.

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