Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Rolando Villazon to direct Werther in Lyon

Opéra de Lyon is a very good house and their program regularly contains some extremely interesting works.

One of this season's highlights was the new opera by Kaija Saariaho Émilie du Châtelet,  premiered last week (cf. this entry). I also saw and very much liked Moscow Cheryomushki.

They are still to announce the program for their 2010-2011 season, but a few important infos already leaked in the local press (see also here)...

Opéra National de Lyon

(1) Two good and relatively rarely staged modern French operas will be premiered, namely  Les Mamelles de Tiresias by Francis Poulenc, and Boeuf sur le toit by Darius Milhaud. I predict this will be one of the major highlights of the operatic season in France. The two operas will be performed together and both produced by Macha Makeïeff.  More interestingly, a young French conductor,  Ludovic Morlot (who pursues his career in the US) will be in charge for the musical direction.  A judicious dose of healthy audacity is always welcome!

(2) There will also be a [new (?)] production of Tristan und Isolde conducted by Kirill Petrenko (the same guy who will conduct the new Centennial Ring in Bayreuth, starting from 2013).
Very good news is that Gary Lehman will sing the title role -- a trip to Lyon in June 2011, anyone?! ;)
[BTW the French Restaurants in Lyon are famous for their best quality/price ratio. Just saying ;)  ]

(3) The Nightingale, an opera by  Stravinsky, that is to be premiered this summer at the Festival in Aix-en-Provence,  will be presented next year in Lyon too. Especially interesting will be to listen to Kazushi Ono's orchestra, in addition to Olga Peretyatko - a superb singer. As for the Robert Lepage's production, let's just hope he'll surprise us by going beyond his usual senseless terabytes of video imagery (am I being mean?!)
(4) Rolando Villazon will DIRECT a new production of Werther. Johannes Willig will conduct.
Serge Dorny, the Lyon Opera's very clever intendant, said this choice was rather obvious since Rolando "knows this opera from the inside".  A bit bewildering, isn't it?
We like Rolando and I don't want to read too much into this news, even though...


  1. Bravo Rolando! I just predicted this a few months back, to a friend. After watching tapes of his Paris Werther, actually. I feel he has so much to give to opera, still, (and not on silly TV programs) and this is the perfect way for him to do it. He could become a fantastic stage director. He certainly has the energy for it, the insights, and he is likable - which is half the battle for a director who has to win over scads of people.

  2. Villazon faisant de la mise en scène, c'est vraiment ridicule. Quand on voit comme il joue... Il y a des dizaines de grands metteurs en scène aujourd'hui, pourquoi jouer aussi sottement le jeu du star-system ?
    Macha Makaieff, c'est la metteuse en scène d'une épouvantable Veuve joyeuse, très réac...

  3. Listen, there are plenty of bad, over-paid directors in the opera world (in France, for sure), so Rolando Villazon has as much right to try it out as anyone else. There is no way to know whether or not he will be good at it before he does it. The skill set for a director is different than that of a singer, obviously, but then again there is some overlap and Rolando's experience may very well come to bear in a positive way. He is an emotional artist, and frankly, hyper-intellectual/poser directors are a dime a dozen. Give me the straight psychological character interpretation any day of the week over that pretentious garbage. I like Mary Zimmerman, so don't jump on that statement. (Directors are paid handsomely, and I mean handsomely. Often they don't even have to face the audience and stand by their work when it is first presented. It's a joke.) Rolando may surprise people, is all I am saying, and people shouldn't hold the fact he is/was a singing star against him.

  4. Just another wrong and hard to understand decission... He should be working hard to be back on the stage as a tenor and not wasting his energies in pop-opera silly tv programs or directing productions...

  5. I think he has serious vocal problems and realistically he may not be able to resume the stage career that he once enjoyed. He has to be practical.

  6. Il y a tellement de bons metteurs en scène en Europe qu'on se demande vraiment pourquoi recourir à un débutant, qui plus est quand on voit comment lui-même joue...
    Les metteurs en scène sont des artistes, et la manière dont un commentaire précédent en parle avec mépris est vraiment caractéristique du problème d'une partie du public d'opéra qui se croit détenir le bon sens. "straight psychological character interpretation", mon oeil !

  7. Mr./Ms. Rameau, then we must agree to disagree. Your condescending tone speaks volumes, reinforcing the very argument I have tried to make. Thank you. I have seen much French opera direction and it can be so cerebral as to be almost completely divorced from the original intention of the librettist, not that the director cared. It is often about the director's ego, and nothing else. The stage is not a director's personal playground - it is there for the benefit of the paying public. "Good stage directors" are in the eye of the beholder, which is why someone with years of performing and interpretive experience has the right to attempt it, even if it is their first time. The fact that you have a problem with the concept of a character's psychology as a basis for an interpretation is astonishing in itself. It is attitudes like yours that will destroy opera, the heart and soul of it. And, again, I am not a traditionalist.

  8. what are villazon credentials as a director??
    He's just a failed singer...

  9. But what are his credentials as a director? Can any failed singer say: "well I'll turn into a director" ?
    This is disrespectful of real opera Directors who have spent years and years of study and need one opportunity like the want is now being granted to a failed singer with no credentials as a director.

  10. Has anyone seen the staging?
    I have, and it's lovely. Lots of great ideas (and a couple of bad calls too, but nobody's perfect), and in the event, a Werther that is as generous as sincere as the singing of its stage director, with the best Charlotte I've ever heard.