Friday, 23 May 2014

'Le Balcon' by Peter Eötvös in Paris

Tonight, I have attended a performance of Peter Eötvös' opera Le Balcon at the Athénée, Théâtre Louis Jouvet in Paris. With a libretto after the play by Jean Genet, the opera premiered in July 2002 in Aix-en-Provence. Since then, it has been performed in Freiburg, Amsterdam, Toulouse, Besançon, Dijon, Budapest, Vienna and Bordeaux, so it was about time it was performed in Paris.

The small orchestra included a stroh violin (also known as horn-violin or violinophone) a recorded tape and a large number of percussion. The ensemble Le Balcon conducted by Maxime Pascal played the witty score that includes imitations of several popular types of music. The countertenor Rodrigo Ferreira delivered a powerful interpretation of Mrs. Irma and the Queen, joyfully accompanied by several singers including Shigeko Hata, Elise Chauvin, Laura Holm, Jean-Claude Saragosse, Florent Baffi and Patrick Kabongo.

The simple staging was partly ruined by projections and lighting changing slightly too often. The switching from singing to speaking actors (12 singers and 10 actors altogether) was also a little disturbing.

But the opera remains a masterpiece of caustic humor and deserves the success it received at the end of the performance.

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