For this Ravel evening – an extraordinary evening – the Opéra Garnier has opened its doors to young people... on the stage side. The sequence Ma Mère l'oye was danced by the students of the dance school, and the sequence L'enfant et les sortilèges sung by the young opera artists in residence at the Académie de l'Opéra. And although these two pieces are revivals of works created on very different dates (1998 for L'enfant, 2023 for Ma Mère l'oye), they form a beautiful unity, as musical as it is visual.
Ma Mère l'Oye, written for piano in 1910, is inspired by a tale by Perrault from 1697. Martin Chaix's dance perfectly illustrates this timeless universe intended by Ravel. The young dancers, even if they have not yet mastered all the technique, are impeccable in these immutable roles that evoke joy, fear and enthusiasm in turn. Three big clouds, a few lanterns, unexpected costumes and good dancers... That's all it takes to create a fairytale world.
After the intermission, there was a change of style with L'Enfant et les sortilèges, which premiered at the Opéra de Monte-Carlo in 1925. Today's version is by Richard Jones and Antony McDonald. Even though this little opera is only 45 minutes long, it is a huge production that requires the presence of 50 performers on stage, a plethora of costumes and sets. An enjoyable, often funny and, visually, absolutely confusing set. The fairy tale competes with illusion to tell the story of this bad kid, in rebellion against his parents. It's superb!
Opera Garnier, until 14 December.