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
Jean-François Borras performs today in the most important international theaters. He has performed with great success as the Chevalier des Grieux (Manon) at the Paris Opera, in Valencia and at the Vienna Staatsoper, as well as Raimbaut in Robert le Diable and Nabucco at Covent Garden, as the Chevalier de la Force (Dialogues des Carmélites) at the Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia, and as Macduff (Macbeth) at the Théâtre des Champs-Élysées. He performed at the Vienna Staatsoper in La Traviata, La bohème, Faust and Werther, as well as in Lakmé in Toulon, Un ballo in maschera in Munich, Thaïs in Sao Paulo, Béatrice et Bénédict at the Matsumoto Festival, Lucia di Lammermoor in Avignon. Jean-François Borras replaced Jonas Kaufmann in the title role of Werther at the Metropolitan Opera and will return for La bohème, Rigoletto, Werther and Thaïs. He sings under the direction of Alain Guingal, Evelino Pidò, Daniel Oren, Patrick Fournillier, Daniele Calegari, Fabrizio Carminati, and Michel Plasson.
At the Opéra de Lausanne: Die Fledermaus (2018) and Les contes d’Hoffmann (2019).
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 Opera and the Regional Symphony Orchestra in Tours from 1999 to 2016, Jean-Yves Ossonce has been the guest conductor of numerous opera houses and orchestras in Europe, across the Atlantic, in South Korea and in China. He has recorded works by Magnard, Massenet and Ropartz, among others. His activity was distinguished in 2008 and 2014 by the Syndicat de la critique musicale et dramatique (“best lyrical performance in the region”). In 2016, he received the Grand Prix de la Presse musicale internationale for his entire career. He is a knight of the Legion of Honor.
At the Opéra de Lausanne: Così fan tutte (2006), Monsieur de Pourceaugnac (2007), Madama Butterfly (2009), L’Aiglon (2013), Faust (2016) and Les contes d’Hoffmann (2019).
In his quest for rigorous aesthetic and conceptual unity for a theatre based on all the arts, Stefano Poda has consistently developed his own language by combining the functions of director, set and costume designer, lighting designer and choreographer. In 2019, he received the Claude Rostand Prize for his production of Dukas’ Ariadne and Bluebeard at the Théâtre du Capitole in Toulouse. He has directed more than a hundred productions worldwide, including the new production of Tosca (2021) at the Bolshoi in Moscow; Nabucco for the inauguration of the National Theater of Korea in 2021 and at the Teatro Colón in Buenos Aires (2020/22); Romeo and Juliet (2018) at the National Centre for the Performing Arts in Beijing; Boris Godunov (2017) and Andrea Chénier (2015) at the Korean National Opera; Mahler’s Fosca and Titan at the São Paulo Municipal Theatre (2016); L’elisir d’amore in Strasbourg (2016); Otello in Budapest (2015); Tristan und Isolde at the opening of the 77th Maggio Musicale Fiorentino. His Faust (2015), Turandot (2018) and Thaïs at the Teatro Regio in Turin, have been shown in cinemas around the world.
At the Opéra de Lausanne: Ariodante and Faust (2016), Lucia de Lammermoor (2017), Les Contes d’Hoffmann (2019), Alcina (2022) and Norma (2023).
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.
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.
Nicolas Courjal studied with Jane Berbié and is now continuing his training with Didier Laclau-Barrère. After a stint with the Opéra-Comique and Wiesbaden troupes, he has performed at the Opéra Bastille, the Théâtre du Châtelet and the main French theatres, in Venice, Macerata, Seville, Covent Garden, Japan, the Chorégies d’Orange, Geneva, Monte-Carlo, Lausanne, Moscow, La Scala in Milan and the Opéra Royal de Wallonie. He can be heard with Antoine Palloc in recitals. As a soloist, he shares the stage with the great French orchestras, the Moscow Tchaikovsky Orchestra, the Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia of Rome, the London Philharmonic Orchestra and the London Symphony Orchestra, under the direction of conductors such as Alain Altinoglu, Serge Baudo, James Conlon, Myung-Whun Chung and Christoph von Dohnányi, Christoph Eschenbach, Michel Plasson, Antonio Pappano, Pascal Rophée, Leonard Slatkin, John Eliott Gardiner, François-Xavier Roth, Raphaël Pichon, Esa-Pekka Salonen, Marc Minkowski, Mikko Franck, John Nelson and Michael Tilson-Thomas. At the Opéra de Paris, he recently made his mark in Alcina. Nicolas Courjal has appeared in several works in Marseille, at the Théâtre des Champs-Élysées, La Monnaie in Brussels, in Monte-Carlo, Toulouse, Rouen, Strasbourg, Oslo and at the Festival d’Aix-en-Provence, in the grand roles written by Verdi, Berlioz, Gounod, Massenet, Wagner, Meyerbeer, Boito, or Donizetti.
At the Opéra de Lausanne: Les contes d’Hoffmann (2019).
Carine Séchaye is a mezzo-soprano. She obtained her singing and acting diplomas at the Geneva Conservatory and then perfected her skills at the Zurich International Opera Studio. A recipient of numerous scholarships, she is also the winner of international competitions, including the prestigious Operalia de Placido Domingo. She performs in the roles of Cherubino, Dorabella, Mélisande, Octavian, Mercédès, Rosine, Orlovsky, Berta, Bersi, Sméraldine, la Périchole, Siebel, Sesto, Mallika, l’Enfant, l’Aiglon, Carmen, Stefano, Tebaldo…
He has been heard in Germany, the Netherlands, France, Switzerland, Monaco, Italy, Oman and Japan both in concert and on the opera stages.
Recently, she was in Marseille for La Traviata, followed by Biel and Solothurn for Dido and Aeneas (Purcell) and at the Grand Théâtre de Genève where she recently performed Mercedes in Carmen and Wellgunde (Rheingold and Götterdämmerung). Next she’ll be singing in St. Gallen and Nice in works by Offenbach and Mozart.
At the Opéra de Lausanne : Tom Jones (2006), Le directeur de théâtre (2006), La canterina (2006), Le nozze di Figaro (2007), Carmen (2008), Hansel et Gretel (2014), Faust (2016).
Winner of the first prize for piano at the Conservatoire de paris, vocal coach for the Académie international de comédie musicale. Frédéric Longbois is a multi-faceted artist who was one of Jérôme Savary’s favourite performers for 20 years at the Théâtre de Chaillot and then at the Opéra-Comique. On television, he has appeared in José Dayan’s Milady, Les Petits Meurtres d’Agatha Christie, Famille d’accueil, Le Sang de la vigne, and Chez Maupassant. He has also acted in French films alongside Isabelle Huppert, Nathalie Baye, Danielle Darrieux, Clémentine Célarié, Romain Duris, Fabrice Lucchini… More recently, Frédéric Longbois was one of the most striking figures in Season 7 of The Voice. A veritable phenomenon on Mika’s team, Frédéric stood out from the blind auditions, as much for his unusual personality that is both touching and colourful, as for his vocal technique.
At the Opéra de Lausanne: La Vie parisienne (2005), Die lustige Wittwe (2014), Le Chanteur de Mexico (2017) and Les Contes d’Hoffmann (2019).
Trained in China, Qiulin Zhang won the grand prize at the Voix lyriques Marmande competition and continued her training at the Conservatoire national supérieur de musique de Paris with Andréa Guiot and Jacques Doucet. She performed in France, Dublin, Hong Kong, Amsterdam, Lisbon, Munich, at the Reiseopera, in Lausanne, at the Avenches Festival, and at La Monnaie in Brussels. But it was at the Théâtre du Capitole in Toulouse that she took part in several landmark productions: Médée, Les contes d’Hoffmann, Das Rheingold, Siegfried and Die Götterdämmerung, Die Frau ohne Schatten, OEdipe, Die Zauberflöte, Les Dialogues des Carmélites. A true contralto, Qiulin Zhang is particularly associated with the role of Erda in Der Ring des Nibelungen at the Capitole (directed by Nicolas Joël), at the Châtelet in Paris (directed by Bob Wilson), at the Opéra Bastille (directed by Günter Krämer). At the Beijing Opera, she interpreted the roles of Ulrica (Un ballo in maschera), Filipievna (Eugene Onegin) and Azucena (Il trovatore). She also participated in a premiere of Detlev Glanert’s Solaris at the Cologne Opera and premiered Bright Cheng’s Dream of the Red Chamber in San Francisco, which she revived at the Hong Kong Festival.
At the Opéra de Lausanne: Les contes d’Hoffmann (2019).
Alexandre Diakoff won first prize for singing in the class of Eric Tappy at the Geneva Conservatory of Music. He regularly performs character roles in opera. He has performed Amida (L’Ormindo), Simone (La finta semplice), Don Magnifico (La Cenerentola), Bartolo (Il barbiere di Siviglia), Bruschino père (Il signor Bruschino), Slook (La cambiale di matrimonio), Benedict (La bohème), the doctor Grenvil (La traviata), the doctor (The Nose), Amantio di Nicolao and Maestro Spinelloccio (Gianni Schicchi). As an oratorio singer, he has interpreted the great works of the repertoire. At the Opéra de Lausanne: Le Chat botté (2009), Monsieur Choufleuri (Route Lyrique 2012), Le Petit Prince (2014), La Cenerentola (2015), My fair Lady (2015), La Fille du régiment (2016), Hamlet (2017), Les Zoocrates (2017), Simon Boccanegra (2018) and Le nozze di Figaro (2021).
Born in Lebanon, Mohamed pursued his musical studies in Switzerland at the Geneva and Lausanne music schools with Marcin Habela and Stephan MacLeod. He made his debut at the Lausanne Opera as Ramirez in La Belle de Cadiz by Francis Lopez. Among the roles he has played on stage: Count Almaviva in Mozart’s Le nozze di Figaro, Belcore in Donizetti’s L’elisir d’amore, John Sorel in Menotti’s Le Consul as well as various roles in contemporary opera creations.
At the Opéra de Lausanne: La Belle de Cadix (2016), Les contes d’Hoffmann (2019).
French tenor Jean Miannay studied singing with Brigitte Balleys at the HEMU and with Scot Weier at the Hochschule für Musik Hanns Eisler in Berlin. His first roles were at the Opéra de Lausanne. In September 2021, he played Ferrando in Così fan tutte, a co-production of HEMU, HEM Geneva and Opéra de Fribourg. He made his French stage debut in 2020 as Beppe in I Pagliacci at the Opéra du Grand Avignon – and subsequently performed in the same role at the Opéra de Vichy in Clermont-Ferrand and at the Festival de Saint-Céré. In 2020, he also appeared for the first time at the Chorégies d’Orange, as part of the “Nuit Magique”. He was invited back the following year for a “Scène émergente” recital and in 2022 he played Isepo in Ponchielli’s La Gioconda.
At the Opéra de Lausanne: Pauline Viardot’s Cendrillon (2018), Les Contes d’Hoffmann (2019), Rinaldo (2020), L’Auberge du Cheval-Blanc (2021), Semiramide (2022) and L’elisir d’amore (2022).
The Opéra de Lausanne Choir is young, made up of students of singing from Lausanne’s University of Music and the Geneva HEM, and professional singers. Its members are selected by audition and periodically reheard. For each opera, they are distributed depending on their voice and/or aptitudes. Thanks mainly to their talent on stage, supported by an infectious enthusiasm, they are highly appreciated by all the theatre directors invited. For a few years the choir has benefitted from preparation by several experienced choir masters from different backgrounds, chosen depending on the works being sung and their specific interest.
rained at the Conservatoire d’Aix-en-Provence, where he began his career under the baton of Darius Milhaud, Patrick Marie Aubert obtained a first prize in orchestral conducting in the class of Pierre Villette. He also won a prize for singing, a prize for lyric art and a prize for chamber music. He was a professor of the choral singing class and then director of the Léo Delibes Conservatory in Clichy, artistic director of the Vox Hominis vocal ensemble, musical director of the Divertimento orchestra and conductor of the choirs of the Nantes Opera. Conductor of the French Army Choir until 2000, he has participated for nearly twenty years in major national events and has conducted numerous concerts in France and abroad. He was the conductor of the Chœur du Capitole de Toulouse from 2003 to 2009, then director of the Chœur de l’Opéra national de Paris from 2009 to 2014. He has collaborated with conductors Maurizio Arena, Serge Baudo, Roberto Benzi, Marc Minkowski, Evelino Pidò, Michel Plasson, Georges Prêtre, Yutaka Sado, Jeffrey Tate… and directors Robert Carsen, Georges Lavaudant, Jorge Lavelli, Laurent Pelly, Pier Luigi Pizzi, Olivier Py, Robert Wilson…
At the Opéra de Lausanne: Orpheus and Eurydice (2019), The Tales of Hoffmann (2019), the exceptional concert of the Opera de Lausanne Choir (2020), Little Red Riding Hood (2021), Candide (2022), Le domino noir (2023)