The show is mesmerizing. Once a year, the backdoors of the Palais Garnier stage are opened onto the Foyer de la Danse, a large golden room, framed by columns and presided over by a magnificent chandelier that personifies the spirit of this theater, inaugurated January 5, 1875. The Foyer was then the setting for discreet rendezvous between opera patrons and dancers. It is still used as a daily rehearsal and warm-up room. Intimate and secretive, the space, though sumptuous, is concealed from the public eye. Except for one evening per year: the annual Dance Gala, an exclusive fundraising soirée presented by the Paris Opera and AROP (Association pour le Rayonnement de l’Opéra de Paris).
The Masked-Life of a Maestro in Times of Covid-19
Part Two of a digital conversation with Keri-Lynn Wilson presented by The American Friends of the Paris Opera and Ballet
Access to the full video of the webinar at the bottom of the post.
For a year now, governments—and often doctors—have redesigned how people can live to combat and survive the Covid-19 pandemic. In some regions, entire sectors have sometimes been shut down: travels, restaurants, hotels, and sport arenas, but also bookstores, museums, theaters, concert halls, and opera houses. Culture and art often don’t fall into the lines of the iconic contemporary word: ‘essential.’
Remarkably though, the Paris Opera was opened for a few weeks in the Fall of 2020. Hopes were then high in France that Covid-19 was being contained, yet it came back with a revenge. While rehearsing Carmen for her debut at the Bastille Opera, Maestro Keri-Lynn Wilson experienced it first-hand. Within a minute, rehearsals were halted, and the opera shut down by the French Government. The same happened for movie theaters, museums, bars, and restaurants.
Wilson’s dream of conducting in Paris was postponed. So, she went back to New York and resumed what she had been doing since March 2020: sharing music online and studying new scores. She created a ‘Becoming the Conductor Series,’ on Instagram, launched a YouTube Channel, built her own playlist on Spotify, and shared many videos and recordings on her website.
Live on the Web, A Star is Born
A French version of this article was published on Le Petit Journal
It was a first on the stage at the Bastille Opéra in Paris. Not the first performance of Rudolf Nureyev’s La Bayadère. This ballet—the last great creation of the Russian-born choreographer and director of Dance in Paris in the 1980s—has been part of the Paris Opera Ballet repertoire since 1992. Nor the fact that this Bayadère was sold and broadcast live on the internet through the new online platform “L’Opéra Chez Soi.”
No, the great novelty this Sunday 13 December 2020 in Paris was a nomination unlike any other, ultimate and without an audience.
The Art of the Virus with Olivia Tournay Flatto
A moving body, notes in harmony, an emotion, a knowledge, a narrow door toward a new idea, an engine inherent to life, to the mere concept of human beings’ survival, science and art maintain an intimate relationship, two mirrors reflecting each other and focusing on the hope of creation.
A professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) actually just metamorphosed Covid19 into a musical existence, similar to the work of a composer, an exceptional melody that could help science to better understand the mechanics and weaknesses of this devastating virus.
Art in the service of science, science in the service of art. Olivia Tournay Flatto is no stranger to the crossover between these two fields.
A scientist herself and President of the Pershing Square Foundation, she has developed a fund to support young researchers with bold and new ideas in the fight against cancer. Passionate about ballet, she is a member of the Board of the Friends of the Paris Opera and President in New York of the American Friends of the Paris Opera & Ballet (AFPOB), created 35 years ago in response to Rudolf Nureyev’s request to support a tour in the United States of the ballet company, which he directed.
The halls of the Palais Garnier and the Opéra Bastille are now closed until further notice; laboratories are mostly concentrating their research on a Covid19 vaccine. Yet science and art—brain and heart—remain more than ever the essence of our lives.