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The Paris Opera: Plus Ça Change

(Cinema, Paris, Opera in the City of Light, Documentary) Permanent link

It's no surprise that drama inherent in running an opera house can outpace the onstage theatrics, but rarely have audiences been given as clear a look at the pitfalls and turmoil of an intendancy as Jean-Stéphane Bron's new documentary about the Paris Opera's 2015-16 season — the first full slate offered under then-new director Stéphane Lissner. The film chronicles a rather chaotic season wherein the company endures a strike; choreographer Benjamin Millepied arrives then departs as the company's ballet director; music director Philippe Jordan stewards several challenging new productions — including Romeo Castellucci's thrillingly exegetical Schönberg’s Moses und Aron — to the stage; and the city shows a courage indéfectible in the wake of the terrorist attacks on the Bataclan. At just 110 minutes, the documentary outpaces Adriana Lecouvreur by about an hour, but delivers a dose of backstage drama than would have kept Cilea inspired. Keep an eye out for cameos by Bryn Terfel, Jordan, then French President François Hollande and rising baritone Mikhail Timoshenko. Indispensable viewing for opera lovers curious how their saucisson gets made. The film's US premiere is slated for October 18 at the Film Society of Lincoln Center and Quad Cinema near Union Square in Manhattan. 

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