“The Opéra Comique is not like other institutions” said Olivier Mantei amid the throbbing of machines and the sound of hammers from the renovation work in the Salle Favart. In the foyer, the only place free of scaffolding, under the painting that depicts the birth of the Opéra Comique, the new director received the Fedora Rolf Liebermann Prize for Kein Licht whose premiere is scheduled in 2017.
In the presence of the president of the Opéra Comique Maryvonne de Saint Pulgent, the Ministry of Culture advisor Laurent Dréano, the director of Communication and Societal commitments at Generali Marie-Christine Lanne and the director of Fedora Edilia Gänz, the president of Fedora Jérôme-François Zieseniss emphasized the mission of his association of European philanthropists: “Far from flattering the giver’s ego or from pleasing the recipient, the Fedora Prize rather chooses to bet on the future, not on the past.” With a sum of €150,000, the association acknowledges the innovations and supports the international impact of this European production.
“Even though the Opéra Comique is small in size, it’s great for its history,” Maryvonne de Saint Pulgent reminded us. With more than 3000 productions over 300 years of history, the institution has managed to reinvent itself constantly. And Olivier Mantei certainly intends to continue on this path. As a commission to composer Philippe Manoury and director Nicolas Stemann, based on a text by Elfriede Jelinek, Kein Licht reflects innovation in many ways: the subject – the world after Fukushima – the writing method, associating the three artists from the outset, the technical modes of composition – part of the music will be created each evening in real time – the mode of production, which associates eight European co-producers and crowdfunding. A creation in which the authors decided to associate the donating public more than a year prior to the premiere, sharing their thoughts and allowing the donors to attend some of the working sessions. Kein Licht will tour Europe for some twenty performances, a rarity for a contemporary production.
To thank them, the Opéra Comique offered those in attendance a guided tour of the Salle Favart as we’ll never see it again. Wearing hard hats, patrons, partners and journalists walked along the corridors jammed with boards and metal framework, making out, in spite of the scaffolding, the lobby’s graceful statues of Carmen and Manon which will welcome the public anew on the reopening of our house.