If you think Paris has the corner on culture in France, then think again. AUCP Summer students will mix and mingle with the who’s who of France during the largest, most renowned Opera Festival in France that takes place every summer in Aix-en-Provence. From July 2-21st,, le tout Paris will be making the 3-hour TGV train ride to Aix to enjoy some of world’s finest opera. Often considered the 21st arrondissement of Paris because of its dynamic cultural scene, Aix has been home to the Festival d’Art Lyrique since 1948. Started as a modest musical gathering in post-WWII France in the courtyard of the archbishop’s palace (pictured below), this year nearly 90,000 Parisians, Aixois, and music lovers from around the world will come together to celebrate music in Aix-en-Provence.
AUCP Summer students have the unique opportunity to attend not one, but two critically acclaimed performances.
Last night, Summer students attended Mozart’s L’enlèvement au sérail (Die Entführung aus dem Serail) or the Abduction from the Seraglio. Set in the festival’s emblamatic open-air Theatre de l’Archevêché, the opera was created in July 1782 in Vienna. Mozart wrote the opera under Joseph II, the enlightened Viennese emperor who wished to promote Germanic opera. Die Entführung aus dem Serail tells the story of Belmonte who tries to free his fiancée Konstanze. She is being held prisoner in the seraglio (harem) of a Pacha who wishes to seduce her.
« It was surreal seeing an opera by Mozart under the stars in one of the most beautiful cities in the South of France!« said Caroline Housel, from Temple University. Erica Wachs, Yale University, was enchanted as well,« The only thing that could compare to hearing this piece of history sung live was the set and the company. The set used sand and fire – two incredibly theatrical elements. Not to mention that I got to experience it surrounded by my new friends! »
The students were accompanied by their Create Expression professor Marie-Anne Rossignol. Marie-Anne also teaches « Provence through Literature and Film » & « French Feminine Archetypes » at the AUCP during the school year, in addition to her courses at the local Aix-Marseille Université. Marie-Anne shares,
« We had fantastic seats, and we were charmed by the music that truly took us on a journey – to the desert in the depths of the night, under the stars – we were simply fascinated by the strong and poetic setting and the brilliant cast. »
But there’s more! Friday evening, the students will attend the world premier of Be With Me Now, a one-of-a-kind musical performance whose roots lie with the famous work The Magic Flute. In the midst of the performance, Tamino leaves the stage and starts off a journey in quest for a lost love throughout four centuries of music and all around Europe. A fusion of live performance and riveting video montage, the audience follows him from one capital to another, guided by the music. Tamino’s journey strings together extracts by Britten, Lambert, Bellini, Stravinsky and Handel as well contemporary pieces commissioned from Daan Janssens and Vasco Mendonça, coming together to highlight the vitality of the opera tradition in Europe today.
Like the ability to enjoy good food, good wine, and good conversation, having an interest for opera is a must for those concerned with the art of living, for which Provence is the center of the world.