The Paris Opéra has announced its 2021-2022 season with 23 operas, 12 ballets of which 14 are new productions: 9 operas and 5 ballets. This adds up to 385 curtain-ups during the season.
The programme includes major repertoire titles, some created for the Paris Opera, others closely linked to the House, from Baroque to Romantic, from Bel Canto to 20th century masterpieces and contemporary music.
CEO Alexander Neef said,
In the unprecedented period we are living through, we wished to question the role of an institution like the Paris Opera. For us, it is a question of drawing up a project for our institution and defining major orientations to guide our action. To reaffirm its commitment to Create, Reach Out, Preserve and Transmit
Sophocles' play Oedipus had the effect of an electric shock on the Romanian composer George Enescu who, even before he had a libretto, worked for more than twenty years on what was to be his only opera, premiered in 1936 at the Paris Opera. The work has not been revived since and remains largely unknown in France. Lyric art calls for dramatic purpose, and Wajdi Mouawad is placing his talent at the service of opera on the stage of the Paris Opera for the first time. This new production of this lyrical tragedy in four acts and six tableaux will be directed by Ingo Metzmacher with Christopher Maltman in the title role and alongside him Anne Sofie von Otter, Sir John Tomlinson, Brian Mulligan, Laurent Naouri, Ekaterina Gubanova, Vincent Ordonneau, Clémentine Margaine, Nicolas Cavallier, Adrian Timpau, Anna-Sophie Neher and Graham Clark.
(Opéra Bastille, 20 September – 14 October 2021 / 9 performances).
Christoph Willibald Gluck's last “tragédie lyrique”, Iphigénie en Tauride, a landmark work in the history of French music which caused a sensation at its premiere at the Opera in 1779, returns to the Palais Garnier stage in Krzysztof Warlikowski's production conducted by Thomas Hengelbrock and Iñaki Encina Oyón (2 October). Nicole Chevalier (Iphigénie) and Jacques Imbrailo (Oreste), making their Paris Opera debuts, Jean- François Lapointe (Thoas) are the three characters tormented by what contemporary psychology would describe as post-traumatic reactions, alongside Julien Behr (Pylade).
(Palais Garnier, 14 September – 2 October 2021 / 7 performances).
Also closely linked to the Paris Opera is Jean-Philippe Rameau's Platée in the celebrated must-see production by regular guest director Laurent Pelly. The role of Platée will be sung by Lawrence Brownlee and Julie Fuchs will once more be playing the hilarious role of La Folie, alternating with Amina Edris, under the baton of Marc Minkowski with Les Musiciens du Louvre.
(Palais Garnier, 17 June – 12 July 2022 / 11 performances).
Georg Friedrich Handel's Alcina will be offered in the production staged by Robert Carsen which brought the work into the Paris Opera repertoire, conducted by Thomas Hengelbrock and Iñaki Encina Oyón (26, 28 December). Jeanine de Bique sings the title role, making her Paris Opera debut, Gaëlle Arquez along with Sabine Devieilhe and Elsa Benoit (19 to 30 December) in the roles of Ruggiero and Morgana.
(Palais Garnier, 25 November – 30 December 2021 / 13 performances).
Although Faust was not first performed at the Paris Opera, Charles Gounod's work rapidly became one of the House's most performed operas. It is only natural that the production directed by Tobias Kratzer, created and filmed last season, is being revived and will finally be performed with an audience in the auditorium. It will be conducted by Thomas Hengelbrock with Angel Blue singing Marguerite and Emily D'Angelo (Siebel), both making their Paris Opera debuts, Benjamin Bernheim in the title role, Florian Sempey (Valentin) and Christian Van Horn (Méphistophélès).
(Opéra Bastille, 28 June – 13 July 2022 / 6 performances).
The upcoming season will include two operas by Jules Massenet, one of the most influential composers of the 19th century alongside Wagner, Verdi and Rossini
Cendrillon, first performed on 24 May 1899 at the Opéra-Comique, will be entering the Paris Opera repertoire. Mariame Clément will direct this masterpiece with Carlo Rizzi conducting. The mythical couple will be sung by Tara Erraught as Cinderella and Anna Stéphany as Prince Charming, two singers making their Paris Opera debuts.
(Opéra Bastille, 23 March – 28 April 2022 / 13 performances).
For the revival of Manon, directed by Vincent Huguet, the title role has been entrusted to Ailyn Perez alongside Joshua Guerrero as the Chevalier des Grieux, who is making his Paris Opera debut, Andrzej Filończyk (Lescaut) and Jean Teitgen (Comte des Grieux) under the baton of conductor James Gaffigan, who will be making his Paris Opera debut.
(Opéra Bastille, 5 – 26 February 2022 / 8 performances).
Two complementary operas by Richard Wagner will be on the bill
An early work marked by romanticism, The Flying Dutchman will be presented by a cast of the greatest Wagnerian singers – Ricarda Merbeth, Tomasz Konieczny, Günther Groissböck, Michael Weinius (debuts) – conducted by Hannu Lintu, for the first time at the Paris Opera, in the production by Willy Decker.
(Opéra Bastille, 7 October – 6 November 2021 / 9 performances).
Parsifal, the composer's last masterpiece, is directed by Richard Jones and conducted by Simone Young. The title role will be sung by Simon O'Neill, invited for the first time to the Paris Opera, alongside Iain Paterson, Marina Prudenskaya, Reinhard Hagen, Kwangchul Youn, Falk Struckmann.
(Opéra Bastille, 24 May – 12 June 2022 / 7 performances).
Giuseppe Verdi's Rigoletto, directed by Claus Guth, will be conducted by Dan Ettinger and Giacomo Sagripanti with Ludovic Tézier taking the title role in alternation with Željko Lučić, Joseph Calleja making his Paris Opera debut in the role of the Duca di Mantova in alternation with Dmitry Korchak, and Nadine Sierra and Irina Lungu as Gilda, Justina Gringyte as Maddalena and Goderdzi Janelldze in the role of Sparafucile.
(Opéra Bastille, 23 October – 24 November 2021 / 16 performances).
Gioacchino Rossini's The Barber of Seville in Damiano Michieletto's madcap production will be conducted by Roberto Abbado with Marianne Crebassa as Rosina, Andrzej Filończyk as Figaro, René Barbera as Conte d'Almaviva, Renato Girolami as Bartolo, Alex Esposito as Basilio and Katherine Broderick as Berta.
(Opéra Bastille, 30 May – 19 June 2022 / 8 performances).
The return to the stage of Gaetano Donizetti's L'Elisir d'amore, directed by Laurent Pelly, will be conducted by Giampaolo Bisanti and Leonardo Sini (2, 9 November). With Sydney Mancasola (debuts) in the role of Adina, Matthew Polenzani, alternating with Pene Pati (debuts) as Nemorino, Simone Del Savio as Belcore, Il Dottor Dulcamara will be interpreted by Carlo Lepore / Ambrogio Maestri and Giannetta by Lucrezia Drei (debuts).
(Opéra Bastille, 28 September – 9 November 2021 / 12 performances).
Khovantchina, Modest Mussorgsky's masterpiece orchestrated by Dmitri Shostakovich, which establishes Russian opera's place in the multifaceted 19th century, will make its grand return to the Paris Opera in a production by Andrei Serban and conducted by Hartmut Haenchen. With Anita Rachvelishvili as Marfa alongside Dimitry Ivashchenko, Sergei Skorokhodov John Daszak, Evgeny Nikitin, Dmitry Belosselskiy, Carole Wilson, Gerhard Siegel, Olga Busuioc, Wojtek Smilek, Vasily Efimov, Tomasz Kumięga.
(Opéra Bastille, 26 January – 18 February 2022 / 8 performances).
New productions of two radically different works composed simultaneously: Turandot and Wozzeck.
The new production of Turandot, composer Giacomo Puccini's ultimate masterpiece, an opera that has not been performed at the Paris Opera for almost 20 years, will mark the first opera conducted by Gustavo Dudamel as Paris Opera Music Director and the return of Robert Wilson to the Opéra Bastille with this production created at the Teatro Real in Madrid in 2018. Elena Pankratova will make her debut as Turandot alongside Gwyn Hughes Jones as Calaf, Vitalij Kowaljow (Timur), Carlo Bosi (L'Imperatore Altoum) and the comic trio of Adrian Timpau, Jinxu Xiahou and Matthew Newlin.
(Opéra Bastille, 1st – 30 December 2021 / 10 performances).
The production of Alban Berg's Wozzeck will be staged by William Kentridge, invited for the first time to the Paris Opera. This emblematic work of musical modernity will be conducted by Susanna Mälkki. Johan Reuter will play Wozzeck and Eva-Maria Westbroek Marie, Falk Struckmann the Doctor and John Daszak the Drum-major.
(Opéra Bastille, 7 – 30 March 2022 / 8 performances).
The beginning of the 20th century is also marked by Richard Strauss's Elektra, staged by Robert Carsen and conducted by Semyon Bychkov (10 to 22 May) and Case Scaglione, making his Paris Opera debut. The three main roles will be played by Christine Goerke as Elektra, Waltraud Meier as Clytemnestra and Elza van den Heever as Chrysothemis, along with Tómas Tómasson as Orest and Gerhard Siegel singing Aegisth.
(Opéra Bastille, 10 May – 1st June 2022 / 8 performances).
For the first time at the Paris Opera, Fin de partie, György Kurtág's only opera, will be performed in Pierre Audi's staging, which had its world premiere at the Teatro alla Scala in 2018. Considered one of the major classical music works of the 21st century, Fin de partie is based on playwright Samuel Beckett's work of the same name. Astonishingly original in its use of the French language, it embodies an entire slice of post- war avant-garde musical history and a lifetime's work. With Frode Olsen (Hamm), Leigh Melrose (Clov), Hilary Summers (Nell) and Leonardo Cortellazzi as Nagg, conducted by Markus Stenz (debuts).
(Palais Garnier, 28 April – 19 May 2022 / 9 performances).
A Quiet Place, first performed in 1983 by Leonard Bernstein and then reworked in 1986, is the last opera of the composer who never ceased to renew the operatic form. After an adapted version in 2013, the work will be presented for the first time in a staged version with a new orchestration by Garth Edwin Sunderland and the Paris Opera has entrusted this world premiere to Krzysztof Warlikowski, who focusses the plot on the family and its secrets. With Patricia Petibon (Dede), Frédéric Antoun (François), Gordon Bintner (Junior) and Russell Braun (Sam) conducted by Kent Nagano.
(Palais Garnier, 7 – 30 March 2022 / 12 performances).
Marina Abramović, a pioneering figure in performance art since the 1970s, will present 7 Deaths of Maria Callas at the Palais Garnier, with music by Marko Nikodijević and arias from opera scenes, conducted by Yoel Gamzou. In this unique production, at the crossroads between opera and performance, the visual artist takes on the persona of the diva.
With Marina Abramović, Willem Dafoe (video actor) and the heroines performed by Nadezhda Karyazina, Lauren Fagan, Leah Hawkins, Adela Zaharia, Selene Zanetti, Gabriella Reyes, Hera Hyesang Park.
(Palais Garnier, 1st – 4 September 2021 / 4 performances).
Two operas by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart / Lorenzo Da Ponte
Conducted by Gustavo Dudamel The Marriage of Figaro will be presented in a new production by British director, set and costume designer and video artist Netia Jones, making her Paris Opera debut. With Peter Mattei as the Count, Ildebrando D'Arcangelo as Figaro, Maria Bengtsson and Miah Persson as the Countess and singers Ying Fang (Susanna) and Lea Desandre (Cherubino) both making their Paris Opera debut.
(Palais Garnier, 19 January – 18 February 2022 / 12 performances).
Don Giovanni, directed by Ivo van Hove and conducted by Bertrand de Billy, will be presented at the Opéra Bastille with Christian Van Horn in the title role, Krzysztof Bączyk as Leporello, Nicole Car as Donna Elvira, Alexander Tsymbalyuk as the Commendatore, Pavel Petrov (Paris Opera debuts) as Don Ottavio, Mikhail Timoshenko as Masetto, Anna El-Khashem as Zerlina and Adela Zaharia as Donna Anna, making her Opera debut.
(Opéra Bastille, 1er February – 11 March 2022 / 13 performances).
Preceded by the sumptuous Défilé composed of the 154 dancers of the Company and the hundred or so students of the Ballet School, a new edition of the Gala will launch the opening of the dance season at the Palais Garnier on 24 September 2021. This evening, conducted by Gustavo Dudamel, will bring together three works highlighting the dual dimension of tradition and creation at the Paris Opera. Clouds Inside, the first work by Tess Voelker, the young American dancer from the NDT, and Damien Jalet‘s Brise- lames – creations commissioned by Aurélie Dupont as part of the “Créer aujourd'hui” programme last October – will be presented along with Harald Lander‘s ballet Études (1948), which, like a demonstration of classical technique, with its purity, rigour and exacting demands, is a transposition of the dancers' daily work.
The account of a tumultuous life in which love proves to be the most dangerous of passions, Stendhal's novel Le Rouge et le Noir guides its heroes through the twists and turns of the 19th century, where desire, politics and religion provide the backdrop for a spirited exploration of characters. Adapting it into a grand narrative ballet in three acts, with sumptuous sets and costumes that he has also designed, Pierre Lacotte, at 89 years of age, presents this totally new creation performed to a musical selection from Jules Massenet.
(Palais Garnier, 15 October – 4 November 2021 / 15 performances).
For her first creation for the dancers of the Paris Opera Ballet, former dancer and artistic collaborator of the Batsheva Dance Company, Sharon Eyal, has been invited to revisit L'Après-midi d'un faune, the emblematic work of the Ballets Russes, to music inspired by Claude Debussy's legendary score.
Frederick Ashton‘s Rhapsody (1980) to music by the Russian composer Rachmaninov and Vaslav Nijinsky‘s The Rite of Spring (1913), choreographed by Dominique Brun to Stravinsky's score, two great classics of the repertoire, will complete this ballet programme.
(Palais Garnier, 29 November 2021 – 2 January 2022 / 24 performances).
Following The Art of Not Looking Back in 2018, Hofesh Shechter will hand on two new works to the Company's dancers: Uprising (2006), conceived for an all-male cast, and In your rooms (2007), a piece combining electrifying dance, forceful scenography and live music by Hofesh Shechter.
(Palais Garnier, 14 March – 3 April 2022 / 13 performances).
The legacy of Rudolf Nureyev (1938-1993) – still very present in the Opera's repertoire, notably in the productions created for the Company – will see the revival of Don Quixote (1981) and La Bayadère (1992), the choreographer's last work, which could not be performed in public in December 2020 due to the health crisis.
(Opéra Bastille, 9 December 2021 – 2 January 2022 / 18 performances for Don Quixote; and 2 April – 6 May 2022 / 21 performances for La Bayadère).
A Midsummer Night's Dream, one of George Balanchine‘s (1904-1983) rare narrative ballets, made its entry into the Paris Opera Ballet repertoire in 2017 with sets and costumes designed by Christian Lacroix. This time, it is scheduled to be performed at the Opéra Bastille.
(18 June – 16 July 2022 / 17 performances).
Giselle (1841), the romantic ballet par excellence, will close the Ballet's season at the Palais Garnier.
(25 June – 16 July 2022 / 15 performances).
This season will also see revivals of contemporary works: Alexander Ekman‘s Play is a highly colourful show set to Mikael Karlsson's upbeat music performed live with the on- stage presence of Calesta “Callie” Day. This ballet, acclaimed by the public when first performed in 2017, gives “play” a core function in work thanks to the contagious energy of the thirty-seven dancers on stage.
(Palais Garnier, 28 September – 6 November 2021 /18 performances).
To the rhythm of Chopin's Preludes, Body and Soul (2019) – a ballet in three acts of great dramatic power and Canadian choreographer Crystal Pite‘s second creation at the Opera – unfurls waves of words and movements that constitute the substance of a secret scenario, a prelude to a bracing and exuberant finale.
(Palais Garnier, 30 January – 20 February 2022 / 16 performances).
Finally, a dive into the choreographic and theatrical universe of Mats Ek, with Carmen as well as the duo Another place and Boléro, the last two creations offered in 2019 by the choreographer to the Opera Ballet.
(Palais Garnier, 6 May – 5 June 2022 / 20 performances).
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.
Conductor Dudamel with short hair. GOOD GRIEF! Someone needs to write an opera spoof with a Sampson and Delilah theme, only in the opera it is Gustave Dudamel being shorn of his curls and subsequent loss of his mojo conducting prowess….only to bring down the pillars of the Paris Opera House as a grand finale…..or am I getting confused with the ending of the La Bayadere ballet, original version, in which the sacred temples comes crashing down, crushing one and all.
Obviously the current pandemic has affected my imagination exponentially.