Editorial of Catherine Pégard


How better to express the vitality of the Palace of Versailles performances than by listing the programme of its ninth season since the reopening of the Royal Opera?

Eighteen new productions of which eight staged performances and five recordings to perpetuate rare moments of emotion.

Behind these choices whose greatest merit is never to betray the genus loci, is Laurent Brunner, the director of Château de Versailles Spectacles. He will forgive me for unveiling his secrets! The first is that over the years he has created for Versailles a group of artists who express both music and friendship. Sébastien Daucé Vincent Dumestre, Franco Fagioli, Leonardo García Alarcón, Sir John Eliot Gardiner, Hervé Niquet et Jean-Christophe Spinosi sign a shared artistic path. Marc Minkowski brings his splendid Mozart/Da Ponte trilogy to a close with Cosi fan tutte and Renaud Capuçon enchants us with a concert whose title Un violon à Versailles gives nothing away.

Great singers also show their constant loyalty: Sabine Devieilhe, Stéphane Degout, Joyce DiDonato, Philippe Jaroussky, Patricia Petibon… All talk of the singular attraction of the Royal Opera. Laurent Brunner's second secret is that he knows history and how to revive it. Looking at Versailles's history is discovering that it was dedicated to art in all its forms and music especially. Four centuries later, we will enjoy the Royal Night Ballet and Phaéton by Lully, conjured up by Benjamin Lazar. And - because daring also befits Versailles- at the end of the 2017 season, King Louis XIV's musical day will be reenacted in the palace, from the royal "Lever" to the "Coucher", from when the King rises to when he retires to bed.

2017 also celebrates two anniversaries: the end of the celebration of Monterverdi's 450th anniversary by Sir John Eliot Gardiner, the Pregardiens, father and son, and William Christie. And also the 500th anniversary of the Reform carried by Martin Luther in 1517, a religious cataclysm with major musical consequences illustrated by the best interpreters of a host of masterpieces including two commissions: Praetorius's magnificent Christmas Mass, recreated by Paul Mc Creesh in the Royal Chapel where Simon Pierre Bestion will present the Resurrection Tears, mingling eminent works by Schütz and Schein, recorded for the Alpha/Versailles collection. Christmas and the Holy Week are major periods for sacred music, with Bach at their heart, but also the recreation of the very Handelian solemn celebration of King George II's coronation, and Benevolo's San Luigi dei Francesi Mass. Two staged performances in the Royal Chapel will highlight the theatrical strength of baroque religious compositions: Charpentier's Histoires Sacrées and Draghi's Earthquake

Autumn will invite us to travel with two exhibitions, a "Winter Journey" designed by contemporary artists will take us through the groves and the "Visiteurs de Versailles (1682-1789)" will show how Versailles in the 18th century was the place to be. These two events needed to be set to music: with Schubert's Winter Journey of course but also with Campra's Europe Galante, recreated to show the multiple influences that were at work at the Court of France. This perfect season reveals considerable work and passion. Nothing would be the same without the Friends of the Royal Opera (ADOR), their numbers and their enthusiasm constantly expanding. I would like to extend my thanks to them. Thanks to their generosity this year we can recreate three forgotten works. It is part of our mission to revive music as we restore the places that were built for it.

Chairman of the Public Establishment of the Palace,
Museum and National Estate of Versailles