Pop the Opera 2017 (c) Philippe Gromelle
Collégiens et lycéens chantent l'opéra, 1er juin 2013, (c) Philippe Gromelle

Around the festival • Educational work

The Chorégies conduct sustained educational work, in partnership with the Department of Education, as represented locally by the ‘Rectorat de l’Académie d’Aix-Marseille’, together also with the ‘Conseil Départmental de Vaucluse’, the state bank ‘Caisse des Dépôts et Con-signations’ and, from this year, the Vivendi Group, in the shape of its ‘Create Joy’ pro-gramme.

Since 2007 the Chorégies’ educational action has been organised in two stages, an awareness-raising stage to the world of lyric art and the performing arts, which includes meetings with professionals, followed by a production stage, which allows students to themselves stage their version of the opera they have studied.

Thus secondary-school students from different schools in the department turned successive-ly to Puccini’s Madama Butterfly in 2007, Bizet’s Carmen in 2008, Verdi’s La Traviata in 2009, Puccini’s Tosca in 2010, Verdi’ Aida in 2011 and Puccini’s La Bohème in 2012. This provided them with an initiation to lyric song, to the theatre, but also to stage direction and to the design of stage sets – such exchanges between the worlds of culture and of schools always giving rise to fine meetings, with enthusiastic responses from both students and teachers, but also audiences.

Thus on 19 April 2012 the pupils of the music-oriented class of the Collège Joseph-d’Arbaud of Vaison-la-Romaine played and sung Puccini’s La Bohème on the stage of the Auditorium de Vaucluse, staged by Jean-Philippe Corre. On a later day all the pupils visited the Roman theatre, attended a reahearsal of the opera, and then the dress rehearsal.

In 2013 the Chorégies extended their educational work to remedial schools and continuation schools and boarding schools, with a view to reaching more and more diverse students and giving the vulnerable and the socially-excluded the opportunity of discovering the opera. The project gave rise to an outstanding concert gathering several opera choirs, given on Sat-urday 1st June 2013 at 21:45 at the Roman theatre of Orange.

The 2014 project was one step more ambitious: beyond introducing students from schools from the Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur Region to the world of opera, it was also intended for them to actually produce an opera, to stage themselves under identical conditions to profes-sional singers. Thus the project of having participants from the Collèges Saint-Michel in Avi-gnon, Alpilles-Durance in Rognonas, Joseph-d’Arbaud in Vaison-la-Romaine and from the Lycée Théodore-Aubanel in Avignon perform Nabucco. All along the school year, 120 students, 12 of them as soloists, worked with singing master Hélène Blanic, then with director Nadine Duffaut, to prepare the performance given on Wednesday 28 May at the Princes’ Palace in Orange. As was the case in 2014, the 2015 project was especially bold. It was intended not only to or-ganise a concert, but to actually produce an opera, Carmen – a happy coincidence, since the last production of that opera at the Chorégies d’Orange in 2008 was also the first year of the production project. Thus, all along the school year, 65 pupils from the Collège Paul-Éluard in Bollène, a remedial secondary school, and from the Collège Joseph-d’Arbaud in Vaison-la-Romaine, worked on the score of Carmen, duly adapted beforehand to make learning it easi-er. The staging was led by the director of Carmen at the Roman theatre that same year, Louis Désiré.

The opera chosen for 2016 is Madame Chrysanthème, the ‘lyric comedy’ by André Messager, whose story is identical to that of Puccini’s Madama Butterfly, the opera written nine years later. The production phase will be supervised by Nadine Duffaut, who is staging Madama Butterfly on 9 and 12 July 2016 on the stage of the Roman theatre. The Chorégies d’Orange are also involved in extracurricular work.

They are thus conducting a workshop around the operas Madame Chrysanthème and Madama Butterfly at the primary school of Uchaux.

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