The Paris Opera Ballet finally is performing again! Even though it is only with a small number of principals and soloists for now, the French audience seems to be very eager to be back in Opera Garnier to watch ballet performances. Because the company decided to renovate the stages of both Palais Garnier and Opera Bastille during this period of uncertainty, it was impossible for the Ballet to perform in normal conditions….. Instead, the Paris Opera decided to nevertheless deliver shows in front of the main curtain, and to build a stage on where it is supposed to be the orchestra pit. This also means that there will be no orchestra, the lightings are very limited and there’s no curtain and no wings. The dancers go on stage in the dark from staircases at the sides and hide themselves in covered areas when they’re supposed to go into the wings.
I went to see the full dress rehearsal (Pré-Générale) and it was a pleasure to see my incredible colleagues on stage once again. According to the governmental guidelines, intermission is not allowed because that would allow the spectators to circulate freely in the theatre and increase the risk of contamination. Therefore, the performance cannot be too long (approximately one hour each) because the people have to stay in their seats all the way through! Mask is compulsory and in theory there are also circulation rules for entering and leaving the theatre. (entering and leaving row by row for example, I am not sure it is that practical in reality though, how much time would that take!?) The Paris Opera Ballet is proposing two different programs in this format:
With a selection of famous neoclassical to contemporary pas de deux and solos, including The Dying Swan (Saint-Saëns, Fokine), A suite of Dances (Robbins, Bach), La Dame aux Camélias (Neumeier, Chopin) and more.
Two programs to satisfy ballet fans during the entire month of October in Palais Garnier. I hope the theatres can remain open amid deterioration of the sanitary situation in France. Just yesterday, France recorded a new peak of positive cases of Covid-19, more than 16000 cases in 24 hours…. The numbers in the Parisian region is officially considered as “maximal alert” and the government should decide this Sunday whether they will ask all the bars and restaurants to close in Paris, which they already did in other French cities where the situation is critical. Meanwhile, the industry is very unwilling to close down as they have already greatly suffered during the past 6 months and fear further economic damages. Demonstrations against the closure of bars and restaurants in France are organised all around the country.
Take care, stay safe!