Werther - Rolando Villazon - Paris - 15.03.2009

Rolando Villazon - great voice, great man

......In 1968 the idea for a new opera house in Paris first came from the composer Pierre Boulez, Maurice Béjart, along with Jean Vilar, a believer in the need for popular theatre. Their report inspired François Mitterrand, the French president, to sponsor a competition to build a new house. He wanted it to become a “modern and popular” place in order to share classical music with the masses.
......Therefore, he created the Opera Bastille Public Establishment (l'Établissement PuA) competition to select an architect to build this new opera house. 756 entries were received, and, in November 1983, the competition was won by an unknown architect, Carlos Ott, a Uruguayan who lives in Canada.
......Located at the Place de la Bastille, in the 12th arrondissement, the house was designed with 2,723 seats, every one of which has an unrestricted view of the stage. The theatre's backstage facilities are extremely modern, allowing for nine times the volume of the stage and the ability to roll entire sets off and on intact. However, compared to other world-class opera houses, the acoustics have been described as disappointing at best.
......Construction began in 1984 with the demolition of Paris Bastille train station, which was opened in 1859 and closed on December 14, 1969, and where art expositions were held thereafter until its demolition.
......The building was inaugurated on July 13, 1989, on the 200th anniversary of the storming of the Bastille, with a gala concert conducted by Georges Prêtre and featuring singers such as Teresa Berganza and Plácido Domingo. However, it did not see its first opera performance until March 17, 1990, with Berlioz' Les Troyens, directed by Pier Luigi Pizzi. (http://www.wikipedia.org/)

......And now my own thoughts. The building is impressive on the outside. It looks more like a congres center. It's huge inside too. You'll see in the pictures below. There are seven floors. What I liked most was the fact that from the foiere you can see outside. There's a beautiful view over Paris from the 7th floor. Visiting operas around the world I got used to see the red velvet seats, big, red, heavy courtain. Here things were different. Black and brown chairs (but very confortable) and no red courtain. It's a black one. On the inside it looks like a symphony hall. It imediately reminded me of Sydney Symphony.

......For those who clicked on the link deliberately, there's no need for a presentation. Opera fans know who Rolando is (and if you're not 100% sure, read here).

......How I got to see him and why Paris? That's easy. About 8 months ago Tina Turner's latest tour was announced so I bought the ticket. 1 month before this concert I got the idea to start looking for other events in Paris. I ran across the schadule for Opera Bastille. And Rolando was included in the cast of Werther.
......Buying the ticket is another story. The day I decided I want to go there were no tickets available on the internet. So i called the Opera. There were several very expensive tickets left and some other cheap ones, 7th and 8th category. It was ok with me, only that they could be bought only at the box office. No internet or phone reservations. There was somebody that some of you might know at least by name. Anne. She didn't know me but she was kind enough to go to the Opera and buy the ticket. Then we met before the opera started and had lunch together. Anne, thanks again. What you did for me was great. And thanks for speaking English. I know it was difficult.

Place de la Bastille, on a sunny day of March
Opera Bastille
A huge bilboard advertising a future performance, Mahler's 3rd Symphony

Inside the Opera.

5 minutes before the show
Here you can clearly see the floors. I was at the same level with the top floor balcony you see in the picture.

......Werther is an opera in four acts by Jules Massenet to a French libretto by Édouard Blau, Paul Milliet and Georges Hartmann based on the German novella The Sorrows of Young Werther by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe.
......Although Massenet wrote and completed his opera already in 1887, it did not receive any performance until it premiered at the Imperial Theatre Hofoper in Vienna on February 16, 1892, in a German version translated by Max Kalbeck. It had a great success. The French-language premiere followed in Geneva on December 27, 1892, and the first performance in France was at the Opéra-Comique, Paris on January 16, 1893.
......The United States premiere at Metropolitan Opera took place in Chicago on March 29, 1894, and then in the company's main house in New York City three weeks later. The UK premiere was at Covent Garden, London, on June 11, 1894. (http://www.wikipedia.org/)

Conductor Kent Nagano
Stage director, sets and costumes Jürgen Rose
Lighting Jürgen Rose and Michael Bauer
Werther - Rolando Villazon
Albert - Ludovic Tézier
Le Bailli - Alain Vernhes
Schmidt - Christian Jean
Johann - Christian Tréguier
Charlotte - Susan Graham
Sophie - Adriana Kucerova

Here's the first glance on Rolando. The tournted poet at his writing desk.
......The sets were simple but great. As if everything happened in Werther's mind. There were words written everywhere, on the floor and walls. Overall, it's a very sad story. He loves her, she's not that sure the love for him and realises he's all she wants only when it's too late. A lot of tears and good byes. And everything happens before and during Christmas.
Susan Graham

A little bit blury. Sorry. I was up high.

......This is what I liked most about the set. Werther's "office". A rock placed in the middle of the scene, having the writing desk on it. Having this on stage, Werther remained on the stage for long periods. he was there but he actually wasn't. The stone was something the other couldn't see. It was Werther's hidden world. He could see everything without being seen. Just like a writer, he created a play. And when he decided to comment on somthing, he got down from the stone while everydoby on stage froze. All the lights went down, the only strong light remaining being the one following him. When he finished and went back on the stone everything else came back to life. Great idea!

This is the final duet. He killed himself with the gun she sent.

Great job, you guys!

......The audience was amazing. We applauded and cheerd for 15 minutes. And they came back again... and again... and again. I won't comment on voices. They all sounded absolutely great. But hey, I'm always subjective when it comes to Rolando.

Adriana Kucerova and the children choir

Ludovic Tézier

...... The opera ended at 5:30 pm. It took me a while to exit the opera. it's not that easy to come down the stairs from the 7th floor. I asked somebody where the backstage door is. Just around the corner. I went there and waited. There were about 30 people doing the same thing, each of them holding a CD, a DVD or the programme.
......Rolando came after 1 hour. And he starting talking to everyone... pictures... autographs. He's so gentle and always smiling.

......I kept the best for last. I don't usually go take pictures with these famous people. I get the impression I ruin the picture. But this time I did it. And my prize, besides this picture, was a big smile. He signed my booklet of Manon DVD.
Rolando, you made my day!

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1 comment:

  1. I was in paris last year. It is very beautiful place to visit. My agent booked my ticket through EasyClick Travel and i was lucky i got at cheap rate whick made my tour fantastic.