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 Postponed Musical Feast of a Woman Maestro in Paris
Part One 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.
A French version was published via Le Petit Journal
Only a handful of women conducted at the Paris Opera, and none of them ever took her baton to present Carmen, possibly one of the greatest operas of all time. The Canadian-born Keri-Lynn Wilson was supposed to do just that—and to also make her debut in Paris last December.
With the threat of Covid19 everywhere, and the measures local and national governments have taken to contain the pandemic, Wilson’s calendar has been reduced to just a few performances. A digital tour of her website (here) lists the many changes: A Concert with the Iceland Symphony Orchestra, the Grand Opera Gala at the Deutsche Oper Berlin, Carmen at the Bastille Opera, Rigoletto with the Bayerische Staatsoper, all canceled… With the exception of the opening streamed-concert of Mozart’s Week last January 21st, Wilson actually has not conducted for a live audience since March 2020.
Yet, had the French Government not decided to shut down all theaters in France a few days before the Christmas holidays, she would have led an exceptional performance, in times of Covid19 and in a major European city. A musical feast.