All the different actors in this production, which was intended to be created this summer, come together for several weeks to begin rehearsals. The composer Kaija Saariaho, the theatre director Simon Stone, and the singer Magdalena Kožená discuss with Pierre Audi, the director general of the Festival d’Aix-en-Provence, how the sanitary crisis has impacted the future of this creation. They also illustrate how work on the production of this opera is continuing despite the complicated circumstances.
Born in the Lebanon, Pierre Audi grew up in Beirut and Paris, before moving to England to study at the University of Oxford. In 1979, he founded the Almeida Theatre, as well as a contemporary music festival in London. From 1988 to 2018, he was Artistic Director of the Dutch National Opera, of the Holland Festival from 2004 to 2014, and of the Park Avenue Armory in New York since 2015. He took up his role of Director General of the Festival d'Aix in September 2018. He is a highly sought after Stage Director in cities all over the world including New York, Paris, Milan, Amsterdam, Salzburg, Brussels, Vienna, Sydney, Los Angeles, and Munich, and his productions cover a vast repertoire of contemporary creations. He has received many awards for his work as a stage director including the Leslie Boosey Award, the Prijs van de Kritiek (prize awarded by Dutch theatre critics), the Prins Bernhard prize for culture, the Johannes Vermeer Award, and the Gold Medal for Arts and Science from the Royal Dutch House of Orange Nassau.
Kaija Saariaho is a central figure in a generation of Finnish composers and performers who have gained international acclaim. Her research and studies at the French Institute for Research and Coordination in Acoustics/Music (Ircam) had a major influence on her compositions. While her repertoire is composed mainly of chamber music, she began to progressively turn towards composing operas with L’Amour de loin (Love from Afar), which was performed for the first time in 2016 at the Metropolitan Opera in New York with stage direction by Robert Lepage, Adriana Mater, and Only the Sound Remains with Peter Sellars, and the oratorio La Passion de Simone. Her work has received numerous awards including The Grawemeyer Award, The Wihuri Prize, The Nemmers Prize, The Sonning Prize, The Polar Music Prize, and in 2018, she received the Frontiers of Knowledge Award from the BBVA Foundation. Kaija Saariaho was a resident professor in the department of music at the University of Berkeley in 2015.
The Australian author and stage director Simon Stone founded his company The Hayloft Project in 2007 and became resident stage director for Belvoir in Sydney. He wrote and directed several works that were very well received by critics and audiences alike. Some of these works include The Daughter, The Trilogy of Revenge, Medea, Three Sisters, Angels in America, Hotel Strindberg, John Gabriel Borkman, Ibsenhuis and Husbands and Wives, Peer Gynt, Rocco and his Brothers, The Oresteia and Thyestes. He directed Erich Wolfgang Korngold’s opera Die Tote Stadt at Theatre Basel and at the Munich Opera, Aribert Reimann’s Lear, and Luigi Cherubini’s Médée at the Salzburg Festival and Giuseppe Verdi’s Traviata at the Paris National Opera. For cinema, Stone directed his first short film Reunion with Cate Blanchett. His film The Daughter with Geoffrey Rush was the recipient of several rewards.
The Czech mezzo-soprano Magdalena Kožená has sung with many different conductors including Claudio Abbado, Pierre Boulez, Gustavo Dudamel, Sir John Eliot Gardiner, Bernard Haitink, Nikolaus Harnoncourt, Emmanuelle Haïm, Mariss Jansons, Sir Charles Mackerras and Sir Roger Norrington. She has performed recitals with the pianists Daniel Barenboim, Yefim Bronfman, Malcolm Martineau, András Schiff and Mitsuko Uchida. At the opera, she has played the role of Zerlina in Don Giovanni at the Salzbourg Festival, Idamante in Idoménée in productions in Glyndebourne, Berlin and Lucerne. She debuted at the Metropolitan Opera in 2003 with her portrayal of Cherubino in The Marriage of Figaro. She then played the main role in Pelléas et Mélisande, sang as Octavian in Der Rosenkavalier, and held the main roles of Carmen, Médée (Charpentier) and Juliette (Martinů). She has received numerous awards for her discography with Deutsche Grammophon and Pentatone. In 2003, she was honored with the French Chevalier des Arts et des Lettres honorary title for her significant contributions to the arts.
Co-Director of the Artistic Administration and Dramaturge of the Festival d’Aix