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The Millepied Era at the Paris Opera Ballet


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#1 miliosr

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Posted 13 July 2014 - 07:00 AM

In the "It's never too soon to start discussing Benjamin Millepied's tenure as head of the Paris Opera Ballet" department, I've created this thread for just that purpose.

 

In the very long profile that appeared in the August 5th, 2013 issue of The New Yorker, Millepied mentioned some of his plans for the 2015-16 season (his first as programmer):

 

  • Opening the season with an existing production of Giselle preceded by experimental French choreographer Boris Charmatz presenting a work in the Garnier's public spaces,
  • Programming an evening of silent ballets by William Forsythe, Emanuel Gat and Jerome Robbins,
  • Introducing works by George Balanchine and Robbins, and
  • Commissioning new works by Justin Peck, Crystal Pite, Alexei Ratmansky and Christopher Wheeldon.

We'll see how much of this actually comes to a pass in 2015-16!



#2 sandik

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Posted 13 July 2014 - 10:46 AM

Ooooh, she says, rubbing her mental hands together -- big fun topic.

 

Just looking at the above list, I would say that it's likely he manages to pull all of those projects off.  Aside from the fact that he's certainly got the connections and the facilities available, none of them seem too far outside the current state of programming (as I'm aware of it, several thousand miles away!)  In general, new directors can often leverage new projects -- they've got a certain amount of good will from the community, and an institutional buy-in from the people who hired them (who have a vested interest in seeing their choice succeed)

 

The interesting part comes afterwards, when some of these projects turn out really well, and others aren't as successful, or as popular.  I'd be more sanguine about these short-term predictions than I would be about longer projects, or goals (like his desire for a more diverse school and company) that require institutional change or long-term investment.



#3 Mashinka

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Posted 13 July 2014 - 01:30 PM

An evening of silent ballets?  The orchestra's union isn't going to like that.



#4 sandik

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Posted 13 July 2014 - 03:33 PM

I don't know -- has the POB performed with recorded music in the past (not because they didn't have an orchestra, but because the choreography was set to a recording)?



#5 miliosr

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Posted 13 July 2014 - 04:26 PM

Millepied would do well not to jettison certain choreographers associated with the POB (i.e. Bejart, Lifar and Petit) in favor of what looks like, to the casual observer, a replication of his own career experiences in New York.  In other words, he may get himself into trouble if it looks like he's trying to create the New York City Ballet on the Seine.

 

He has done one smart thing already and that was to hire Aurelie Dupont as Ballet Mistress.  She commands great respect within the POB and she is strong in an area where he himself has admitted he is weak -- in the full-length classics.



#6 volcanohunter

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Posted 13 July 2014 - 04:27 PM

 

I don't know -- has the POB performed with recorded music in the past (not because they didn't have an orchestra, but because the choreography was set to a recording)?

 

I was thinking the same thing. From the orchestra's point of view, no music wouldn't be different from pre-recorded music.



#7 Amy Reusch

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Posted 13 July 2014 - 05:26 PM

Miliosr, don't you think his Balanchine repertoire connections were part of his appeal to whomever chose him?

#8 Tapfan

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Posted 13 July 2014 - 05:46 PM

I'm glad to hear that he seems interested in diversifying the racial makeup of POB. I'm happy that this is important to someone who runs a major company.

 

I read  that he's interested in developing new choreographers. I assumed that meant people other than Peck, Wheeldon and Ratmansky. That's why I don't fear that he will try to turn POB into City Ballet on the Seine.



#9 sandik

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Posted 13 July 2014 - 08:35 PM

Miliosr, don't you think his Balanchine repertoire connections were part of his appeal to whomever chose him?

 

I would imagine so.  But I think his connection to Robbins is also a significant factor.



#10 tomorrow

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Posted 13 July 2014 - 11:30 PM

He has done one smart thing already and that was to hire Aurelie Dupont as Ballet Mistress.  She commands great respect within the POB and she is strong in an area where he himself has admitted he is weak -- in the full-length classics.

Whether Laurent Hilaire was dismissed for new blood or because they didn't get along nobody knows, but I'm reluctant to see Aurelie Dupont's promotion as smart. I realise it may be legal to dismiss managers for new faces in the US but unless the Paris Opera is exempt because of its status as a public institution, I doubt it would hold up in the French courts. I'd expect similar for any disagreements, especially for a no. 3 of a department (the administrator being the real no. 2), and the Paris Opera's track record for ignoring the labour law over the past few years is insulting enough.

Politics aside, Millepied said recently there would still be Nureyev's productions and to keep technical standards up, Balanchine and Robbins (Millepied's connection to them is irrelevant, their trusts are already very involved in the POB), but his focus was very much on the contemporary repoirtoire. A shame if the company does become a French City Ballet - much of the POB's heritage is already collecting dust. Nicolas Le Riche also said in an interview a couple of weeks ago he was leaving at the right time because the project of the house was changing and it wasn't his idea of what dance is, so I'm expecting a noticable shift in repoirtoire.

I'm glad Millepied is interested in developing in-house talent. I would hope that isn't just synonymous with young talent though and extends to include Jean-Guillaume Bart, massively underutilised by the company, and Florence Clerc. Clerc seems like a strong producer but has never been commissioned to reproduce something, but then this is an incredibly talented coach whose lack of promotion to at the very least assistant ballet master has never made much sense...

#11 silvermash

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Posted 14 July 2014 - 12:05 AM

 

 

I don't know -- has the POB performed with recorded music in the past (not because they didn't have an orchestra, but because the choreography was set to a recording)?

 

I was thinking the same thing. From the orchestra's point of view, no music wouldn't be different from pre-recorded music.

 

In any case, the Paris Opera Orchestra has to play for both ballet and opera and in fact, POB has often to hire other orchestras because the in house orchestra is too busy: sometimes two operas and two ballets run at the same times.

Right now, Notre Dame de Paris is played by Orchestre national d'Ile de France, for instance. Besides when it comes to more intimate or specialised music, POB hire other orchestras as well: L'Ochestre de chambre de Paris last decembert for Mozart Le Parc, Balthasar-Neumann Ensemble for Gluck's Orpheus and Eurydice, etc.



#12 Mathilde K

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Posted 14 July 2014 - 12:41 AM

Whether Laurent Hilaire was dismissed for new blood or because they didn't get along nobody knows
(...)
Nicolas Le Riche also said in an interview a couple of weeks ago he was leaving at the right time because the project of the house was changing and it wasn't his idea of what dance is,

Aren't you answering your own own question?

 

In an interview that Le Riche gave on the occasion of his Farewell gala at Palais Garnier, Le Riche was almost explicit that he didn't get along with Millepied and he didn't share his vision "of what dance is". He also sounded a harsh assessment of the current situation of ballet in France and of the lowered standards in the troupe of the Opéra with an obvious implication that both were the legacy of Mme Brigitte Lefèvre's era.



#13 naomikage

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Posted 14 July 2014 - 12:51 AM

Paris Opera does perform to recorded music in some modern repertoire, my experience was in Emanuelle Gat's "HARK !".



#14 silvermash

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Posted 14 July 2014 - 02:30 AM

 

 He also sounded a harsh assessment of the current situation of ballet in France and of the lowered standards in the troupe of the Opéra with an obvious implication that both were the legacy of Mme Brigitte Lefèvre's era.

 

can you give your source I seem to miss that one ?



#15 Mathilde K

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Posted 14 July 2014 - 02:40 AM

The long and unusually interesting interview taken by Maria Sidelnikova for Russian newspaper Kommersant.




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