“After the Palais Garnier in 1875 and the Opéra Bastille in 1989, the Paris Opera has decided to build its 3e Scène (3rd stage) in the digital world.”
That explosive statement comes from a new website, created by the Paris Opera, which will go live on 15 September. But how can a website and your pc screen compete with Charles Garnier’s opera house? Well, it will not be competing, as a video of an opera or ballet might do, but will complement the offerings of the company’s two theatres. Original works will be showcased on the site – the five short films I have seen in preview range from documentary to fantasy, from dance to opera – and when the site becomes available there will be fifteen films works ready for viewing. However, after 15 September the 3e Scène will open its doors to visual artists, filmmakers, composers, photographers, choreographers and writers all over the world, and invite them to create original works relating to the Paris Opera.
Of course, ‘relating to the Paris Opera’ will be the catch, because having access to the creative talents and buildings of the Paris Opera – as had the five filmmakers that I’ve seen in the preview – will make the task far easier than for the artist in Australia who wants to contribute… but hey, difficulty stimulates creativity!
For example, artist Carine Brancowitz’s film Intermezzo consists of a long ten-minute pan over her frieze of dancers relaxing and stretching interspersed with musical instruments, metronomes and scores. This is definitely possible from the other side of the globe even if she is based in Paris and, in theory, had access.
Loren Denis’ film O comme Opéra, on the other hand, is a celebration of life with the Paris Opera, consisting of stunning images of dancers on the roof, rehearsals, backstage, the orchestra, singers warming up, productions on stage and the audience applauding, all in glorious HD.
The Paris Opera says that the relationship between the Opera and the works created may be forthright, robust, subliminal, drawn-out, extended or even distended. But above all, “we want the artists to make the Opera their own, to draw on its resources, roam within its walls and meet its talents in order to reveal places, colours, history, questions and people through creation”.
In this new space, the Paris Opera intends to amplify its dialogue with the public as well as using as an opportunity to “make new friends”. The 3e Scène’s spectators will live all over the globe, speak every language, and love art in all its forms.
“The relationship between the Opera and the works created may be forthright, robust, subliminal, drawn-out, extended or even distended. But above all we want the artists to make the Opera their own, to draw on its resources, roam within its walls and meet its talents in order to reveal places, colours, history, questions and people through creation.”
Certainly, the 3e Scène project has neither equal nor model. It is inventing a space where tradition, creation and new technology unite as symbols of modernity.
The company’s director, Stéphane Lissner, says,
The Paris Opera’s 3e Scène, or Third Stage, a performance place in its own right for digital creation alongside the Palais Garnier and the Opéra Bastille, is a unique project in the world of opera and ballet.
Graham Spicer is a writer, director and photographer in Milan, blogging (under the name ‘Gramilano’) about dance, opera, music and photography for people “who are a bit like me and like some of the things I like”. He was a regular columnist for Opera Now magazine and wrote for the BBC until transferring to Italy.
His scribblings have appeared in various publications from Woman’s Weekly to Gay Times, and he wrote the ‘Danza in Italia’ column for Dancing Times magazine.