On Saturday night by 7 pm people thronged the forecourt of the Opéra Comique, at Place Boieldieu. On their own, with the family or with friends, many were those who came to spend an operatic Nuit Blanche (White Night festival) at Salle Favart. Proof that music soothes the savage breast. Although they had to wait for a long time before entering the theater, the atmosphere was festive and friendly. But what was this ever-denser crowd waiting for through the night? For its first participation in the Nuit Blanche, the Opéra Comique had organized an unusual karaoke: an operaoke! Eight special sessions with the purpose of becoming an operatic vocalist for one night. An opportunity that does not show up every day.
All these people wishing to sing opera, really? If you wonder why, it might be that you have not yet met Christophe Grapperon, the maestro of the evening. Between 7 pm and 4 am, this unconventional choirmaster managed to have five thousand people, young and old, singing along arias from Carmen, The Magic Flute and La Fille de Madame Angot. Upon arriving, the sometimes skeptic singing audience left with excitement, asking for more. Some would even stay for a second session and leave the Salle Favart humming the Toréador song and Papageno’s aria for the rest of the night.
Yet, this was not the end of the Nuit Blanche. At midnight the vocalists stopped singing to welcome the Spanish artist Pilar Albarracin in the theater foyer. In a performance that had begun in Sevilla and continued that night in the streets of Paris, she occupied the stage along with 150 women in traditional colorful flamenco attire. Real Carmens who were there to “die” in the opera house that first witnessed the famous femme fatale to denounce violence against women.
This first Nuit Blanche turned out to be a great success in terms of participants but also because of its import. A moment of sharing whose emotion and conviviality prompt us to renew it next year.
Photos of the 2019 Nuit Blanche - © Stefan Brion - Opéra Comique