Eugene Onegin for the National Holiday, what prompted your choice?
Since being appointed to the Monte Carlo Opera, I have endeavoured to present something original, of high-quality and of a different musical genre for each national holiday. This year, the Russian opera takes pride of place with one of Tchaikovsky’s major works, an international cast orchestrated by a great conductor, Dimitri Jurowski and an extremely beautiful production with costumes from the Marinksi Theatre in Saint Petersburg. My choice is inspired by the event, the audience and the availability of the artists. The work chosen for the National Holiday must be exceptional by nature so as to be in harmony with the event which is both festive and formal. Onegin is an outstanding opera. It should be an extremely enjoyable evening. As two extra performances are to be given at the Grimaldi Forum, it is important for the show to be of interest to the general public. My motto: “The highest quality for the highest number of people”.
Can you tell us a little bit about how the new opera The Marquise of O... came into being?
I had had this project for five years, when one of my colleagues gave me Kleist’s novella, The Marquise of O..., as a gift. I really appreciated the quality of the work and it seemed to me to be a magnificent subject for the opera. I therefore wanted to revive the great tradition of creation at the Monte Carlo Opera. The German playwright, Gabriele Hoffman, adapted the novella into a libretto. For the composer, I opted for the excellent René Koering. Together we put together this project entrusting the staging to Daniel Benoin, Director of the National Theatre of Nice. Moreover, Barbara Haveman should be perfect as the Marquise, a key role as a woman, ideal for her. The cast is extremely talented and will be conducted by Lawrence Foster. We have all the ingredients needed, I hope, to make the opera a success. Of course, like all creations, risks do exist. My conviction is that to produce a new opera, you need great composers but also great subjects! Everybody agreed about The Marquise of O... it had never been adapted for the opera and contemporary music is more accessible when accompanied by a compelling story. I have always thought that big things can’t be achieved with small goals.
What are the highlights marking the 2010-2011 season?
We can talk about highlights for a season of ten or eleven operas, but with five or six operas on the bill, we must strive for excellence. This season is similar to a festival – everything is a highlight: Onegin, the Bartoli gala, the Bal masqué with Violeta Urmana, one of the great voices of today, and the first appearance in Monaco of the greatest bel canto tenor of our time, Juan Diego Florez. Nicola Meller Carbone will play Salomé admirably. Furthermore, the director (Marguerite Borie), for whom this is the first major production for the opera, is very young and I feel a duty to help the creators of tomorrow. Then there will be seven performances of Rigoletto with two different casts. I wish to insist on the fact that one cast is not any less talented than the other, but that they offer two different artistic approaches. In the middle of these performances, a recital will be given by Albert Dohmen, one of the three greatest Wagnerian baritones of the moment, and finally the first global production of The Marquise of O... .
The Monte Carlo Opera is opening up to a wider audience thanks to special evenings where non season ticket holders can have seats, a larger number of performances of the highly popular Rigoletto and two open days, which met with great success last year, where everyone will have the opportunity to watch the rehearsals of Rigoletto and Salomé free of charge.