Apr 24, 2009

Another frustrating season: Lyon 2009-10

So, yesterday evening Serge Dorny, GM of the Opéra de Lyon, proudly introduced us to his next season, that he "humbly" described as a season of accomplishments centered around the theme of wandering.

As a matter of fact, the presence of Dorny in Lyon has been a strange kind of accomplishment: he successfully managed to ignore the monuments of opera, the French repertoire and the first-half of the XIXth century altogether and turned the House into a kind of experimental laboratory for XXth century (or even XXIth century) operas.

After quite a few seasons of that regime, you'd be crying for classicism as well. And once again, I'm left with this daunting and harrowing question: when will someone finally offer Dorny a new job so that he can get the hell out of Lyon?

I must admit however the new season has a clear highlight (for those who like the music involved, that is): the world premiere of Kaija Saariaho's latest piece, Emilie, an opera in 9 scenes composed for Karita Mattila, who will effectively sing the 4 performances schedules in early March (the opera will then inaugurate the exchange program Dorny finalized with Pierre Audi and the Nederlandse Opera in Amsterdam where it will be performed for 3 nights at the end of March ; Michel van der Aa's After life is the production Audi will send to Lyon in late March).

Karita Mattila is, desperately enough, the only attractive singer to come to Lyon next year. As usual, Dorny failed in securing attractive casts, and Puccini's Manon Lescaut (Jan/Feb) is even listed without a name for Manon (a very frustrating trick, if you ask me).
It's worse on the conductors front, as Dorny, ending his 3-opera cycle around Mozart and Da Ponte (Don Giovanni to open the season in October) couldn't convince William Christie, who led the first 2 pieces (Nozze and Tito), to come back and finish the job.

By the way, Dorny confirmed that all three operas will be performed again for the 2010-11 season. Seeing how unattractive the cast of Don Giovanni is, I'm guessing I'll wait til next year in hopes of an improvement there.

This 2009-10 season is basically a showcase of Russian operas.
For Christmas, Dorny chose to exhume Macha Makeïeff and Jérôme Deschamps's production of Chostakovitch's Moska, Cheremushki, and the three Tchaïkowski's productions of Peter Stein will be performed altogether in a pretentious "Pouchkine Festival" (April and May) that will feature Mazeppa, Oneguin and The Queen of Spade as well as two concerts. Dorny prided himself on being able to create an homogeneous company for the occasion, and assured us Peter Stein would make a lot of changes to his direction (which frankly is pretty blend and unimaginative, so that clearly can't hurt, can it?).

The season will then end with Humperding's Hänsel und Gretel in the production Laurent Pelly created for the Glyndebourne Festival last summer (June) and two performances of last year's success, Gershwin's Porgy and Bess, directed by José Montalvo and Dominique Hervieu (July 16 and 17). José Van Dam will come on Nov. 8 for a concert around Fauré, Duparc and Poulenc; Jérémie Rhorer and his ensemble will (attempt to) play Mozart on Jan.17 and principal conductor Kazushi Ono will conduct the remaining concerts scheduled.

Dorny chose the slogan "Entrez sans frapper" for the season. In my perspective, he should substitute it for "Leave without notice".

[The new season is online].  

Further reading: - "En avance la musique!", Libé Lyon

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