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Atelier Lyrique of the Paris Opera

Atelier lyriqueAtelier Lyrique de l’Opéra national de Paris: a springboard for tomorrow's voices

Since 205, the Atelier lyrique de l'Opéra de Paris (Lyrical Workshop of the Paris Opera) offers an improvement program for singers and coaches. Training in music and drama join scenic projects.

Maudits les innocents: first performance of the year for soloists from the workshop

Sopranos, tenors, baritone… They are twelve this year, from Russia, Italy or Guatemala to be trained at the Atelier lyrique de l’Opéra de Paris. Participants are hand-picked. They all want to become singer-soloist.

Since the beginning of the academic year, the students of the workshop are actively preparing their next performance. The opera Maudits les innocents (Damned innocents) is an original creation and will be performed for the first time in December. Four young composers from the Paris Conservatory have put the book from writer Laurent Gaudé in music.

In 1212, teenagers go on a crusade to the Holy Land. The expedition will lead them to their doom. This is a dark chapter of our history, in which stage director Stephen Taylor sees the opportunity to pounder on "the drift of our beliefs and ideology".

"A necessary textual work"

This morning, in the Debussy rehearsal room of the Opéra Bastille, the mood is studious. Around the piano, two soloists work on Act II of the opera. Baritone Andriy comes from Ukraine. He plays Pope Innocent III, who opposes the project of the teenagers. In front of him is Arto, a French tenor of Armenian origins, who plays the Messenger.

Under the guidance of stage director Stephen Taylor, the rehearsal starts with a music playback. Singers warm up their voice. Every phrase and every word is explained: before the singing begins, soloists must feel the text to embody their character in full personification. Tone, diction, pronunciation, the stage director does not make any exception. Then, the two soloists take place on an improvised stage. Voices go free at last.

"This textual work is a necessary exercise for these singers from various linguistic origins. Several speak French very well, others a bit less. Everybody must be on an equal footing", stresses Stéphane Resche, stage director assistant.

A musical and theatrical training to improve

Arto is 30 years old. He arrived at the workshop last October. This training is a bit like his "business card" for the future, he explains. Andriy, 27 years old, shares this feeling. He has just started his third year at the workshop and still appreciates the cultural exchanges with the other singers.

For a season or two, the soloists will work in workshops with qualified specialists. Singing lessons, lyrical diction and pronunciation alternate with a training focused on theatrical acting, which includes for example modules on body movements or role study.

The experience of the stage

Confrontation with the stage is the second mission of the workshop. Every year, students participate in six or seven musical performances, mainly recitals and concerts. The annual production of an opera allows them to play major roles of the lyric repertory.

In France and abroad, the young singers will perform on major stages and put their work under the judgement of their audience. They have the opportunity to be spotted by casting directors or conductors. Just like Russian soprano Elena Tsallagova, to quote but one: a former student of the Atelier lyrique, she plays the female lead role in Pelléas et Mélisande, performed in the Opéra Bastille.