Musée d'Orsay: The Empire of the Opera

The Empire of the Opera


During the Second Empire, Paris was the European capital of opera. And this was due to the success of "grand opera", a genre championed in the 1830s by Meyerbeer, Halévy and Auber, whose enduring legacy under the Second Empire influenced composers like Verdi and Wagner.
This success can be explained by the choice of great historical subjects with great dramatic potential, the clash of passions, the crowd scenes and the presence of a ballet: all elements that will be found in the four filmed productions that we are offering.

5 - 27 November 2016
Musée d'Orsay
Auditorium niveau -2


Full rate: €14
Concessions: €10
Young person and solidarity rate: €8
Under 18s: €4.50


The African Woman

The African Woman is the quintessential "grand opera". Meyerbeer’s final work, performed on a colossal stage set one year after his death, was an official event. The production by the San Francisco Opera acknowledges this monumentality as well as the exquisite lyrical passages throughout the score.

Giacomo Meyerbeer, music
Eugène Scribe, libretto
Plácido Domingo, Shirley Verret, Ruth Ann Swenson, Justino Diaz
Orchestra, Choir and Ballet of the San Francisco Opera
Maurizio Arena
, direction
Lotfi Mansouri, staging

Opera in five acts
1988, 3h15
Film producer: Brian Large
Prod.: San Francisco Opera/ORF/RM Arts/Arthaus

Brian LargeL'Africaine© arthaus-musik

Sat 5 November 2016 - 15h00
Musée d'Orsay
Auditorium niveau -2

Romeo and Juliet

Performed at the Theatre-Lyrique in 1867, Romeo and Juliet was Charles Gounod’s greatest triumph. This work is often considered as the best transposition into opera of a Shakespeare play. A ballet was added when it entered the Paris Opera repertoire in 1888.

Charles Gounod, music
Jules Barbier and Michel Carré, libretto
Nino Machaidze, Rolando Villazón, Mikhail Petrenko, Russel Braun
Mozarteum Orchestra Salzburg
Yannick Nézet-Séguin
, direction
Bartlett Sher, staging

Opera in five acts
2008, 2h42
Film producer: Brian Large
Prod.: Salzburg Festival

Sat 12 November 2016 - 15h00
Musée d'Orsay
Auditorium niveau -2

Don Carlos

After the Sicilian Vespers in 1855, the Paris Opera turned to Verdi who, in spite of his reticence towards the "grande boutique" as he called it, finally accepted a commission for an opera inspired by Schiller. Don Carlos had a long gestation with many different versions including the one in French - the most complete - that we are presenting.

Giuseppe Verdi, music
Joseph Méry and Camille du Locle based on Schiller, libretto
Alastair Miles, Ramón Vargas, Bo Skovhus, Simon Yang
Vienna Opera Choir and Orchestra
Bertrand de Billy
, direction
Peter Konwitschny, staging

Opera in five acts
2004, 4h07
Film producer: Reitzen Anton
Prod.: ORF, Wiener Staatsoper

Reitzen AntonDon Carlos© ORF

Sun 20 November 2016 - 15h00
Musée d'Orsay
Auditorium niveau -2


No other opera by Wagner is more closely linked to his fortunes – and misfortunes – in Paris than Tannhäuser. It was in Paris that the composer drew up the first plan for the work, and where it would cause a memorable scandal, as Wagner refused to give in to Parisian "Balletomania". It was, however, this Parisian version, with the Venusberg, that would become established.

Richard Wagner, libretto and music
Camilla Nylund, Waltraud Meier, Robert Gambill, Stephen Milling
Philharmonia Chor Wien
Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin
Philippe Jordan
, direction
Nikolaus Lehnhoff, staging

Opera in five acts. Paris version (1861)
2008, 3h56
Film producer: Andreas Möhlich-Zebhauser
Prod.: Festspielhaus Baden-Baden, Nederlandse Opera Amsterdam

Andreas Möhlich-ZebhauserTannhäuser© arthaus-musik

Sun 27 November 2016 - 15h00
Musée d'Orsay
Auditorium niveau -2

Enlarge font size Reduce font size Print