Editorial 2018 | 2019

The wind of liberty, five centuries of opera.

"It is liberty that we must love, the supreme good is liberty". These words are pronounced no less than seven times in Act II of Rameau’s Les Boréades, and while referring to the freedom to love, they are also a resounding challenge to the authoritarian power of the king by a composer at the height of his art, and who had nothing left to prove. Abaris incarnates the political liberty of an individual who revolts against the privileges of an arbitrary class system, and proves that true nobility is a matter of virtue and not of birth. The social and political foundations of the monarchy are attacked head-on in this final masterpiece by Rameau. Because of its complexity, the number of roles and their character, not to mention the massive forces required to stage it, Les Boréades is a work rarely performed, with huge challenges in terms of production, making it the key event of the Dijon Opera’s 2018 | 2019 season. It remains nonetheless the baroque opera, not just of the composer but of the whole period, that seems most in resonance with the problems of our own age: the attitude of the individual in the face of arbitrary inequalities and the violence of power; social status, the subjugation and liberation of women; stratification of society; the freedom to love and the growing awareness of one’s own power to act: Les Boréades questions all the persistent and contradictory values inherited from the Old Regime and the Enlightenment and our current responses and efforts to go beyond them. 

Liberty. This theme, extremely rich and present throughout the history of opera, will accompany our reflection through the discovery of 6 lyric works, covering 5 centuries in the history of the genre. First, the liberation of women, with three composers, and the fates of three heroines: Janáček (Jenůfa) to continue the Janáček cycle launched two seasons ago, Sacrati (La Finta Pazza) and Bizet (Carmen). Next, the total lack of liberty and imprisonment within the body, with the opera Koma by Georg Friedrich Haas (2016), for which the Dijon Opera will present the French premiere. Political freedom, obviously, with Verdi’s Nabucco, symbol of the Risorgimento, in the extension of our Verdi cycle that began with Simon Boccanegra. Last but not least, the freedom to create, with Les Boréades representing the ultimate liberty of the composer, with its bold harmonic, rhythmic, and orchestral liberation, unparalleled in its day. 

Florentine Klepper, Barrie Kosky, Marie-Ève Signeyrole, Emmanuelle Haïm, Roberto Rizzi-Brignoli, Adrien Perruchon, Stefen Veselka, Leonardo García Alarcón, top-tier casts, international co-productions, 6 new productions, 4 productions on tour in France and Europe: after 10 seasons, the Dijon Opera is in full transformation. It now holds its rank and affirms its place on the European lyric stage. The musical programming will be rich, with 34 concerts performed by our artists in residence and associates, as well as prestigious guests such as Murray Perahia, Boris Berezovsky, and young talents to discover such as Sophie Paccini, Astrig Siranossian, or Nathanaël Gouin. Les Dissonances will tackle several masterpieces of the symphonic repertoire: Gustav Mahler’s “Titan” Symphony, Stravinsky’s Firebird, and Shostakovich’s celebrated11th symphony. Andreas Staier invites you to two rare and intimate moments, around the late sonatas of Schubert. Some 20 years ago, he was among the first to give these works a new lease on life in universally praised interpretations on pianoforte. With the maturity acquired over the years, he today again takes on these monuments of keyboard history with emotion, sincerity and fidelity to Schubert, who like a dear old friend has accompanied him since the start of his career. Leonardo García Alarcón will lift our hearts and minds with another monument of musical history: the B Minor Mass by Johann Sebastian Bach. On the last weekend of January, you are invited to a unique experience. In the form of a mini-festival of 3 concerts, you will be hear a dialogue between works by baroque and contemporary composers, and listen to the responses they provide to the same fundamental questions, throughout history. 

Dance will also be highlighted with performers who today are lighting up the great stages of the world: Alain Platel will present his latest creation, inspired by Mozart’s Requiem, Jan Lauwers will evoke in an intense performance the industrialisation and violence of the First World War, the loves, happiness and secrets of a life, while we enjoy music from the Doors with the Art Danse festival. Lastly, the Dijon Opera is not just limited to evening performances, but is also involved in numerous daytime activities in schools, prisons, hospitals, retirement homes, neighbourhood residences, with associations and cultural partners, throughout the region. Over the last 10 years, more than 75,000 people have benefited from a special assistance project with the Dijon Opera, for whom the Opera acts in cultural citizenship, as an essential actor in the collective life of its territory, all the while continuing to extend its reach throughout Europe.

Laurent Joyeux
Director general & artistic director

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