Celebrating the bicentenary of the birth of Jacques Offenbach by opening the season with the most serious of the pieces composed by the master of comic opera. As Offenbach died while it was being rehearsed, Les contes d’Hoffmann remained unfinished. The work thus floats in a glorious feeling of infinity, leaving free course to interpretation and lifting its creator to the promising rank of opera composer. How was this German composer able to triumph on the French scene, becoming in just a few years ‘King of the Second Empire’ before finding success on a worldwide scale? For the story, Offenbach returns to the romantic universe of E.T.A. Hoffman, author, artist and composer with an eventful life. Does this dreamlike world, populated by ghosts of a dangerously recent past, memories and fleeting images not also reflect the intimate life of Offenbach in person or, in short, the artist? We must in any case believe that the musical imagination of the young comic opera cellist beautified the airs he heard from the orchestra pit to become the genius we know today.
Fantasy Opera in five acts
Libretto by Jules Barbier based on the eponymous play by Jules Barbieret, Michel Carré, based on E.T.A. Hoffmann
First performance at the Opéra Comique, Paris, February 10, 1881
Editions Choudens (by Ernest Guiraud), Paris and Editions Bärenreiter (by Fritz Oeser), Kassel
For the first time at the Opéra de Lausanne.
Beate Ritter is an Austrian soprano, member of the Staatsoper Stuttgart troupe, where she recently sang as Gilda, Musetta, Zerbinetta and Olympia. Comfortable in operetta as well as in opera, she sang for eight years in the Vienna Volksoper Ensemble. She has also performed in numerous operas and international festivals, such as the Glyndebourne Festival, and at the Dallas Opera, Teatro dell’Opera di Roma, Oper Leipzig, Oper Köln, Komische Oper Berlin, Deutsche Oper am Rhein, Malmö Opera, Opéra national de Lorraine, and Angers Nantes Opéra. She has performed in concert singing the solo parts of Bach’s passions and cantatas, in Beethoven’s Missa solemnis, Handel’s masses and Mozart’s religious works and concert arias for coloratura soprano. Her Lieder repertoire includes works by Schubert, Wolf, Reger, Strauss, Kagel and Reimann.
For the first time at the Opéra de Lausanne.
After completing her studies at the Conservatoire National de Paris, Vannina Santoni made her debut in the role of Donna Anna (Don Giovanni) in Italy and in Versailles. She then premiered as Patricia Baer in Les pigeons d’argile by Hurel at the Théâtre du Capitole, and sang Suor Angelica and Lauretta in Il Trittico by Puccini, Donna Anna at the Oper Köln and Juliet (Roméo et Juliette) in Hong Kong. She successfully took on the title-role in Manon at the Opéra de Monte-Carlo, and more recently sang Princess Saamcheddine (Mârouf) in Bordeaux, Agnès (La nonne sanglante) at the Opéra Comique and Violetta (La Traviata) at the Théâtre des Champs-Elysées, a performance which was praised by both critics and audience. Her recent commitments and projects include singing as Nanetta (Falstaff) at the Opéra de Monte-Carlo, as Juliet at the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation in Lisbon and as Pamina (Die Zauberflöte), her first time in this role, at the Opéra de Paris. Among her numerous other projects are the Countess (Le nozze di Figaro) at the Théâtre des Champs-Elysées and Adina (L’elisir d’amore) at the Théâtre du Capitole.
Director of the Tours opera and regional symphony orchestra from 1999 to 2016, Jean-Yves Ossonce was invited to conduct numerous operas in a wide repertoire with orchestras in Europe, on the other side of the Atlantic, in South Korea and in China. He has recorded, among other things, works by Magnard, Massenet and Ropartz. His work was awarded in 2008 and 2014 by the Syndicat de la Critique Musicale et Dramatique with the prize for best lyric performance in the region. In recognition of his career, he received the 2016 Grand Prix de la Presse Musicale Internationale. He is a knight of the Legion of Honour.
At the Opéra de Lausanne: Così fan tutte (2006), Monsieur de Pourceaugnac (2007), Madama Butterfly (2009), L’Aiglon (2013), and Faust (2016).
To give operas all their rigorous aesthetic and conceptual unity, Stefano Poda assumes alone the jobs of stage director, scenography, costume designer, lighting designer and choreographer. He has thus created over one hundred productions worldwide, including Ariane et Barbe-Bleue at the Théâtre du Capitole in Toulouse; Roméo et Juliette at the NCPA in Beijing; Andrea Chénier and Boris Godunov in Seoul; Il trovatore in Cagliari and Athens; Fosca by Carlos Gomes and Titan, a choreography to Mahler’s Symphony No 1, at the São Paulo Municipal Theatre; L’elisir d’amore in Strasbourg; Otello at the Hungarian State Opera; Tristan und Isolde for the inauguration of the 77th Maggio Musicale in Florence with Zubin Mehta; Thaïs at the São Paulo Municipal Theatre and the Teatro Regio in Turin; an international production of Leggenda by Alessandro Solbiati; La forza del destino in Parma; Falstaff with Ruggero Raimondi in Liège; Il concilio dei pianeti, Il trittico, Rigoletto, Maria Stuarda, Tosca, Attila, Don Carlo, etc.
At the Opéra de Lausanne: Ariodante and Faust (2016), and Lucia di Lammermoor (2017).
For the first time at the Opéra de Lausanne.
Géraldine Chauvet came from the Jeunes Voix du Rhin to make her international debut in 2009 at the Arena di Verona in the role of Carmen (F. Zeffirelli), conducted by Plácido Domingo, who invited her to sing the final Carmen-Don José duet with him at the Gala Domingo in Tokyo. She was applauded in New York at the Avery Fisher Hall as Adriano (Rienzi), then Sesto (La clemenza di Tito) at the Metropolitan Opera. Her broad repertoire includes Adalgisa (Norma), Rosina (Il barbiere di Siviglia), Carmen (title-role), Charlotte (Werther), Mère Marie de l’Incarnation (Dialogues of the Carmelites), Kostelnicka (Jenufa), Gertrude (Hamlet), Laura (La Gioconda), Elvira and Zerlina (Don Giovanni) and Santuzza (Cavalleria rusticana), and world premieres in Il Postino in Vienna with Plácido Domingo, as well as Charlotte Salomon by M. A. Dalbavie in Salzburg in a performance directed by Luc Bondy. She recently sang Nicklausse (Les contes d’Hoffmann) at the Metropolitan Opera, and Carmen and Nabucco at the Arena di Verona. Her future plans involve Nabucco, Carmen and Don Giovanni, and a gala concert in Verona with Plácido Domingo.
Jean-François Borras is currently performing in the biggest international theatres. He has successfully sung the Chevalier des Grieux at the Opéra de Paris, in Valencia and at the Vienna State Opera, Raimbaut in Robert le Diable and Ismaele in Nabucco at Covent Garden, the Chevalier de la Force at Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia, and Macduff at the Théâtre des Champs-Elysées. He has performed at the Vienna State Opera in La Traviata, La Bohème, Faust and Werther, in Lakmé in Toulon, Un ballo in maschera in Munich, Thaïs in São Paulo, Béatrice et Bénédict at the Matsumoto Festival, and Lucia di Lammermoor in Avignon. Jean-François Borras replaced Jonas Kaufmann in the title-role of Werther at the Metropolitan Opera, returning there for La Bohème, Rigoletto, Werther and Thaïs. He has sung with conductors such as Alain Guingal, Evelino Pidò, Patrick Fournillier, Daniele Calegari, Fabrizio Carminati, Michel Plasson, Alain Altinoglu, Stéphane Denève, Roberto Abbado, Daniele Gatti, Roberto Rizzi Brignoli, Riccardo Frizza, Emmanuel Villaume and Dan Ettinger.
At the Opéra de Lausanne: Alfred in Die Fledermaus (2018).
Nicolas Courjal studied with Jane Berbié. He made his debut in the prominent Verdi roles (including Fiesco, Philippe II and Miller) in Marseille. On several occasions he has sung Méphistophélès by Berlioz and sang as König Marke for the first time in Bordeaux, Gessler (Guillaume Tell) in Monaco and London, where he also sang as Le Grand Prêtre (Oedipe by Enesco). He sang Don Inigo (L’heure espagnole) at the Opéra de Paris and made his debut in 4 diables in the Contes d’Hoffmann in Monaco, and Bertram (Robert le Diable) at the La Monnaie. At the same time, he has performed in baroque pieces such as L’Orfeo by Monteverdi in Lausanne and Zoroastre by Rameau, and participated in several world premieres. He has appeared at festival venues including Macerata, Beaune, Montpellier, Aix-en-Provence and Pesaro. He has performed with several orchestras: the Tchaikovsky Symphony Orchestra in Moscow, the RTVE Symphony Orchestra in Madrid, Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia, the Philharmonic Orchestra and London Symphony Orchestra, the Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France, and the Orchestre National de Lyon, conducted by François-Xavier Roth, Alain Altinoglu, Michel Plasson, Sir John Eliot Gardiner, Vladimir Spivakov, Antonio Pappano, Marc Minkowski and Raphaël Pichon. Among his recordings feature Carmen, Herculanum by Félicien David and Les Troyens by Berlioz. At the Opéra de Lausanne: Caronte, Plutone, Un pastore in L’Orfeo (2016), and Il conte Rodolfo in La Sonnambula (2018).
As a student in Éric Tappy’s class at the Geneva Conservatory of Music, Alexandre Diakoff was awarded first-prize for singing. He often plays character roles, which include Amida in L’Ormindo, Simone in La finta semplice, Don Magnifico in La Cenerentola, Bartolo in Il barbiere di Siviglia, Bruschino padre in Il signor Bruschino, Slook in La cambiale di matrimonio, Benoît in La bohème, Doctor Grenvil in La Traviata, the doctor in Chostakovitch’s Le Nez, Amantio di Nicolao and Maestro Spinelloccio in Gianni Schicchi. As an oratorio singer, he has performed the greatest works of the repertoire.
His performances at the Opéra de Lausanne include: the ogre in Le chat botté (2009), the title role in Monsieur Choufleuri (2012), the King, the Drunkard, the Lamplighter and the Signalman in Le Petit Prince (2014), Don Magnifico in La Cenerentola (2015), Doolittle in My fair Lady (2015), Hortensius in La fille du régiment (2016), Horatio in Hamlet (2017), l’homme-singe and le marabout in Les Zoocrates (2017), Pietro in Simon Boccanegra (2018).
For the first time ever at the Opéra de Lausanne. Jean Miannay began singing opera at the Conservatoire de Nantes in Natasha Siehoff’s class. After two years, he went on to study musicology in Lille and joined Françoise Semellaz’ class. During those years, Jean performed roles such as Tamino in Mozart’s La flûte enchantée, Pelléas in Pelléas et Mélisande by Debussy, Basilio in Le Nozze di Figaro by Mozart.
In 2017, he took part in the International Opera Festival of Belle-Île en Mer, and joined Brigitte Balleys’ class at the Haute Ecole de Musique in Lausanne, where he is currently enrolled. He is a Colette Mosetti foundation award-winner in 2018. He sang the role of the Prince in Pauline Viardot’s Cinderella at the Opéra de Lausanne. Winner of the 26th Clermont-Ferrand International Singing Competition in 2019 for the role of Beppe, he also won the Grand Prix du Concours Raymond Duffaut at the Opéra du Grand Avignon.
The Opéra de Lausanne Choir is a core group of about forty chorists who are, for the most part, students from singing or professional specialisation classes at the Lausanne Conservatory or other conservatories in Western Switzerland. Chorists are selected by audition and periodically reviewed. Choir directors are chosen from among the most experienced and vary for each performance.
The Opéra de Lausanne Choir is regularly hired by orchestras and festivals in Switzerland and abroad: Création by Haydn (December 2003 – conductor Jerzy Semkow) and Stabat Mater by Rossini (February 2006 – conductor Corrado Rovaris) as a part of the Lausanne Chamber Orchestra season, Roland by Lully (concert version) at the Amsterdam Concertgebouw, at the Opéra de Montpellier and the Palais des Beaux-Arts in Bruxelles (January 2004 – Talens Lyriques orchestra – conductor Christophe Rousset), Die Entführung aus dem Serail concert version at the Théâtre des Champs-Élysées (January 2005), La grotta di Trofonio (concert version) at the Théâtre de Poissy (March 2005 – Talens Lyriques, conductor Christophe Rousset), Nocturnes by Debussy at the 2007 Montreux Septembre musical (RSO Berlin – conductor Marek Janowski).
In 2008 and 2010 the choir performed as part of the OCL season under the baton of Christian Zacharias: Te Deum by Bruckner (February 2008), Les Noces by Stravinski (December 2008, also in Saint-Gall) and Beethoven’s IXe Symphony (April 2010).
The Choir has also been on many tours with Opéra de Lausanne productions: Opéra de Vichy (Rigoletto in 2005, Il Turco in Italia in 2006, La veuve joyeuse in 2007, Carmen in 2008, Amelia al ballo in 2008 under the direction of Arie Van Beek and La Traviata in 2009 conducted by Roberto Rizzi Brignoli), Opéra Comique (Amelia al ballo by Menotti in March 2007). In October 2008, the Opéra de Lausanne and its choir toured Japan for five performances of Carmen.
The Opéra de Lausanne Choir is featured on several CDs: Le Nez by Chostakovitch, Roland by Lully and La grotta di Trofonio by Salieri. The Choir was also involved in televised performances on RTS of La fille de Madame Angot, La Belle Hélène and, for the reopening of the Opéra, L’elisir d’amore.
After studying at the Aix-en-Provence Conservatoire where he made his debut conducted by Darius Milhaud, Patrick Marie Aubert won 1st prize for orchestra conducting in Pierre Villette’s class. He has also won prizes for singing, lyric art and chamber music. He was a teacher of choral singing then director at the Conservatoire Léo Delibes in Clichy, artistic director of the vocal ensemble Vox Hominis, musical director of the Orchestre Divertimento and choir master at the Opéra de Nantes. As choir master of the French army until 2000, he participated for almost twenty years in major national events and conducted numerous concerts in France and other countries around the world. He was choir master at the Théâtre du Capitole in Toulouse from 2003 to 2009, then director of the Opéra de Paris choir from 2009 to 2014. He has worked with conductors such as Maurizio Arena, Serge Baudo, Roberto Benzi, Marc Minkowski, Evelino Pidò, Michel Plasson, Georges Prêtre, Yutaka Sado and Jeffrey Tate, and theatre directors including Robert Carsen, Georges Lavaudant, Jorge Lavelli, Laurent Pelly, Pier Luigi Pizzi, Olivier Py and Robert Wilson. Patrick Marie Aubert is a Knight of the Legion of Honour, an Officer of the National Order of Merit and Commander of the Order of Arts and Letters.
At the Opéra de Lausanne: Orphée et Eurydice (2019).