During the last big rehearsal in front of the opera audience LohengrinFrançois Girard was clearly in his element. Longtime comrades and collaborators came to greet him between two acts, sometimes in French.
The director has been working for five years on this nearly four-and-a-half-hour opera that was given its grand premiere on Sunday night at the Metropolitan Opera (Met) in New York, then until April 1st.
I never get tired. Wagner’s genius still fascinates me. Still today I hear things for the first timeHe said.
Opera in Moscow on the day of the Russian invasion of Ukraine
François Girard knows Wagner’s work well. Also at the Metropolitan Opera, he performed Parsifal In 2013 thereafter Flying Dutchman in 2020.
His artistic partner Yannick Nézet-Séguin, musical director of the Met since 2018, abounds in this trend.
We got a little tired, because Wagner is a journey, it’s a marathonsays the maestro.
this Lohengrin The new was actually presented for the first time in Moscow at another legendary venue: the Bolshoi Theatre.
On the day of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, we were at the Bolshoi with the premiere of this opera. The Russians and the Ukrainians experienced this while playing Lohengrin Hand in hand. There was that in the backgroundAs François Girard says.
These are the memories that make the difference. Even today, I still remember what happened a year agoAs François Girard says.
But it’s different this time. The director is accompanied by Maestro Yannick Nézet-Séguin, who signs over the musical direction of this great opera.
It might be because we’re from Quebec, but I get the impression that we have the same idea in terms of Wagner’s vision, the same way of working with the people in the choir, the cast, the orchestra.Mosul explains.
François Girard adds all the smiles:
We hold ourselves back so as not to worry your palm in front of the orchestra. Of course, it’s a friendly relationship. We speak the same language, we’re Quebecers, and we find ourselves at the resort which is easy because we come from the same place.
A masterpiece created over 150 years ago
Lohengrin is Richard Wagner’s masterpiece created in 1850. In this romantic and sweet opera, a Sophie knight wants to remain anonymous at all costs after he rescues Duchess Elsa.
To present this universe of lies, betrayal and love in the 3,800-seat auditorium of the Metropolitan Opera, everything was done to excess. The sets are otherworldly and the harmonies are majestic.
in Lohengrin, There are twelve trumpets off stage, and a full orchestra behind the stage at some point, playing. It seems to me that the more people, the better off I amsays Yannick Nézet-Séguin.
François Girard, who is haunted by the same idea of greatness as his colleague, acknowledges that the Met gives him the means of his ambitions:
The Met is a huge machine. It’s the biggest theatrical machine I’ve seen, one that responds if you hit the right pegs.
Bite into the big apple
Residing in New York for five months, François Girard will also resume at the Met Opera Flying Dutchman Starting May 30th.
But before that, he will present a new version of the play on March 16th. The Hunting Gun, based on a novel by Yasushi Inoue with dance legend Mikhail Baryshnikov. This show will be staged at the Baryshnikov Art Center, which is a very small theatre.
For his part, Yannick Nézet-Séguin shares his life between Montreal, Philadelphia and New York.
I think I would go a little crazy if I stayed in New York 365 days a year. But at the same time, it sure motivates me greatlyhe explains.
I feel that here, to use an English expression, you should be At the top of our game. We have to be at the best of our strength and abilities to survive here. It definitely pushes me to develop myself as an artist.
Despite their Wagnery schedules, François Girard, 60, and Yannick Nézet-Séguin, 47, have a big shot in the Big Apple. they Lohengrin The 2023 edition will be presented in New York through April and a recording of the concert will be shown in select Canadian theaters starting March 18th.
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