Lauch evening with the Figaro at the Opéra Comique
On the occasion of the launch of the special issue of Le Figaro on Imperial Vienna, l’Opéra Comique of Paris hosted a magnificent evening, organized in partnership with the Bal des Parisiennes,The Viennese Ball of Paris®. Relive this moment of grace, entirely rebroadcast on Figaro Live : conferences, concert and dance.
There is not better place than the Opéra Comique, with its armchairs of red velvet and its neobaroque gilts, to feel transported in Vienna, the city where elegance shapes the city’s identity. The splendours of the Austrian past, were brought to light in this new issue of le Figaro, Imperial Vienna, whose publication was celebrated, Wednesday, January 23, through fine talks, music and waltzes. An evening made possible thanks to the collaboration of the Bal des Parisiennes, the Viennese Ball of Paris® and the support of Viennese sponsors (the Vienna Tourist Office, the Belvedere Museum, Wien Holding, the Dorotheum and the Schönbrunn Palace).
« This high-quality issue very elegantly reflects the intense relations between our countries, which already existed during the Habsburg era.» It was with these words that Austrian Ambassador Michael Linhart opened the festivities before handing over to Alexis Brézet, the managing editor of Le Figaro, who expressed the hope that this evening would «be a hymn to the beauty of Vienna, to the Franco-Austrian friendship, and also, in these troubled times, a great moment of civilization». The challenge was set and it was brilliantly faced. The round table moderated by Vincent Trémolet de Villers, deputy managing editor of Le Figaro, brought together historian Jean Sévillia, who had the guests be immersed in the tumultuous and grandiose epic of Habsburgh sovereigns, before the editor of the special issue of Le Figaro and Figaro History, Michel de Jaeghere, conveyed the essential historical underpinnings of the Viennese Secession, with its sophisticated, though sober buildings, its bewitching and mysterious paintings, as a reaction to the decorative profusion of «neo» styles. Isabelle Schmitz, assistant editor of Le Figaro special issue, concluded the first part of the evening mentioning the famous director of the Vienna Opera, Gustav Mahler, a hard-working man who sought, with his usual demanding manner, “true beauty, perfection and efficiency”, and who made opera become a total artwork.
In order to reflect the vastness and richness of the Viennese musical spectrum, the orchestra Prométhée - the official orchestra of the Bal des Parisiennes, the Viennese Ball of Paris® - took possession of the stage and, led by a virtuoso hand by Pierre-Michel Durand and sublimated by the voice of baritone soloist Jérôme Boutillier, made the senses of the spectators vibrate. He interpreted the Lieder Eines fahrenden Gesellen (Songs of a wandering companion), composed by Mahler for a young woman, the agony of a man repelled by the one he loves, succession of caressing, violent or melancholic melodies ; those Lieder were radically different from the atmosphere and musicality of the triumphant opening of the Gypsy Baron of Strauss Son, whom the orchestra played (divinely) after an introduction to the waltz made by the president of the Bal des Parisiennes, the Viennese Ball of Paris®, Hélène de Lauzun.
The evening reached its peak when the twenty-six « Débutants » (young people selected to open the Ball) under the orders of Charles de Lauzun, general director of the Bal des Parisiennes, the Viennese Ball of Paris® invaded the scene with their white dresses and tuxedos. They made a concrete demonstration of Viennese refinement, on the cheerful air of the polka Figaro, composed by Strauss II, in honor of Le Figaro in 1867 - indeed the newspaper had split a few sweet words towards him - and that of the Waltz of the Emperor. At the end of the evening, during the buffet where many Viennese culinary specialties joined white wine, beer and champagne, these same « Débutants » invited spectators to take part in the dance. A foretaste of the fifth edition of le Bal des Parisiennes, the Viennese Ball of Paris® which will be held on June 15, 2019 at the Palais Brongniart and will celebrate the bicentenary of the birth of Jacques Offenbach. This ball is open to everybody and will give a new life to ancestral traditions, made of civility and delicacy during a magical night
Simply because Vienna is a dream, whose essence spreads like a subtle fragrance. Gérard de Nerval sums it up in a few lines in his Travel in Orient: « He (the Viennese) does not numb, as we believe, with tobacco and beer; he is spiritual, poetic and curious like the Italian, with a more pronounced tint of goodness and gravity; it is to notice the need that he seems to have, to have all his senses in alert, and at the same time to constantly gather the table, music, tobacco, dance and theatre." Apart from tobacco, the seven hundred lucky people that night at l’Opéra-Comique could taste, for a few moments, the sweets of Viennese life.