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Small opera – big impact: Opéra national de Lorraine in Nancy presents JULIE by Philippe Boesmans | from 27/03/2022

Editors’ Choice

How does the young opera director Matthieu Dussouillez manage to attract so much attention far from the high streets in a small town in the east of France, Nancy in Lorraine? How is it possible to create such relevance with rarely performed works that the opera is filled with an enthusiastic and young audience even on a Tuesday in early February?

Image above: Exterior façade of the Opéra national de Lorraine Nancy, © L’œil créatif for Opéra national de Lorraine

“The house wants to be right up front and has already driven a stake in it,” says Deutschlandfunk. Philippe Boesmans’ new opera Julie (from March 27th) or musical director Marta Gardolińska’s interpretation of Fortuno (on April 24th) certainly belong in this line-up; as does the co-production with the Halle Opera (première on March 19th) in the form of a new production of Jan Ignacy Paderewski’s Manru, which will be performed in Nancy next season.

DEEDS NEWS - Courtesy of Opera national de Lorraine - Grande salle - (c) L’œil creatif
Great Hall, © L’œil créatif for Opéra national de Lorraine

Director Matthieu Dussouillez (*1985), who has held the artistic directorship since 2019, observes young talents closely, encourages and supports them: In his laboratory for new forms of NOX music theatre, he involves not only professionals but also the city’s inhabitants. In an interview, the young opera director reveals some of his recipes for success: The “traditional house in a beautiful ambience” is “an up-and-coming music theatre” and convinces by posing pressing questions with theatrical means. Since 2020, Dussouillez has been implementing a European project that is guided by strong artistic guidelines. It provides for the promotion of a new generation of international artists who are able to think about the opera of tomorrow in a rapidly changing world. The aim is to develop an opera and symphony programme in harmony with musical Europe and the Art Nouveau style that characterised Nancy’s architecture at the beginning of the 20th century. In particular, it will promote contemporary music and the rediscovery of rare works, and pay special attention to the revival of emblematic repertoire works. Matthieu Dussouillez pursues the consistent construction of a civic opera anchored in the region, forward-looking and open to social issues, and committed to equality, diversity and ecological change.

“With the programme of the Opéra national de Lorraine, we are promoting the idea that opera cannot be limited to a patrimonial or museum art form: It is a living form of expression that is being taken up by a new generation of artists to look at our world today. Promoting contemporary art also means revisiting works created in the last 50 years to anchor them permanently in the repertoire: too often operas are performed only once and then forgotten.”

Matthieu Dussouillez, General Director of the Opéra national de Lorraine

Julie, Philippe Boesmans

The opera Julie was premiered in 2005 at the Aix-en-Provence Festival and at the Théâtre de La Monnaie, based on August Strindberg’s work Miss Julie. Its composer Philippe Boesmans is one of the most respected and beloved figures in the opera world today. He has contributed to the high points of European operatic creation. His music refuses neither sophistication nor pleasure in narrative and fiction, placing its expressive power at the service of the drama whose shadows, unspoken things and lies it reveals.

DEEDS NEWS - Courtesy of Opera national de Lorraine - Croquis de decors Julie - (c) Silvia Costa
Scenery sketches Julie, © Silvia Costa

Silvia Costa, stage director and visual artist, breaks here with the naturalism inherent in Strindberg’s theatre and exposes the ritual, the naked existence and the dance of death with which the bodies give and refuse themselves to each other until they are destroyed. Silvia Costa delivers an opera that is both sculptural and choreographic, approaching performance.


Julie, Opera in One Act
Music: Philippe Boesmans
based on Fräulein Julie by August Strindberg
Production: Opéra national de Lorraine
CoproduCtion: Opéra de Dijon
Musical direction: Emilio Pomarico
Orchestra and choir of the Opéra national de Lorraine
Direction and stage design: Silvia Costa


Opéra national de Lorraine
1, rue Sainte-Catherine
54000 Nancy 


Sunday, March 27th, 2022 at 3 pm
Tuesday, March 29th , Thursday, March 31st , Friday, April 1st, 2022 at 8 pm


Entrance fee: from 5 to 75 EUR

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