Cher Public

Patrice Chéreau, 1944-2013

According to Liberation, the celebrated opera director and filmmaker died today of lung cancer in Paris. He was 68.

  • papopera

    Désolé, je ne savais pas. Beaucoup trop jeune hélas.

  • Todd

    I’d add to the list of the Ring, Elektra, and Wozzeck his Tristan and Cosi. Not to mention From the House of the Dead, the best thing I’ve ever seen at the Met.

    One thing, at times quite small, I always take away from his productions is the attention he gives to the chorus. Obviously the end of Götterdämmerung is famous (and intensely moving) for that, but even just the sailors reacting to Tristan and Isolde kissing, or the onstage “extras” in Cosi watching the shenanigans around them get more and more serious take my breath away every time.

    • Porgy Amor

      Così fan tutte is the only one on that list (comprehensive for the ones I have seen) that I did not love. I did not hate it either, and I respected what he was trying to achieve, but my memory is that in trying to provide an alternative to conventional frothy shtick, he went too far in the other direction — people standing around for three hours looking intensely serious, with breaks for them to look downright stricken. Some of the cast members on the video version can be witty and charming, and they were deprived of opportunities.

      However, as I said elsewhere tonight, I have never seen a bad Chéreau production. Now I suppose I never will. And one honorable misfire amid so many brilliant successes is, in my book, a great batting average. I am only sorry the filming of the Lulu got spoiled (some technical issue with the lighting, was it not?).

  • alejandro

    We have lost one of the greats. :(

  • Sad. His rendering of The Ring was genius.

  • Krunoslav

    The “hip” factor relates to buzz and looks (HAVE to be slim) and aura and hasn’t necessarily anything to do with the artist *trying* to be hip, but more the projection and identification of the fans and the music journalism industry.

    Dessay, Delunsch, Hunt Lieberson, Bejun Mehta, Keenlyside, Dumaux, Cencic, Breslik-- to me he’s the least talented of the otherwise impressive lot-- all have or have had this factor in regard to their publics.

    I think the vocal comparison with Barstow is a very good one, though Herlitzius is much better with text than Barstow was in *any* language…

    • Feldmarschallin

      I once saw an interview with Herlitzius which she gave where she mentioned how much she likes having a homebase in Dresden so that she can be near her family and children. She seemed very down to earth (bodenständig) and wasn’t trying to impress anyone. Certainly no diva in the way Dame Gwyneth was.

      • Krunoslav

        As I said, they don’t have t be projecting it themselves. It is a question of how journalists, and fans, perceive them.

        Nothing to do with Gwyneth-like Diva behavior, which none of the non-countertenors I mentioned indulge in. :)

      • Buster
        • Feldmarschallin

          That was what I had seen a while ago and she mentions when she first went to Dresden she had small children and it was nice to be able to have a theater which she felt comfortable in and she is a artist in residence now. She has a certain number of performances every season which the theater can plan with her and she can plan with the theater and that they discuss projects. She started out as a dancer.

          • Buster

            I thought it might be. Glad this works well for her. She can sing what she wants, where she wants.

    • peter

      Has Herlitzius sung in the U.S.?

      She must be impressive on stage, but I have a hard time getting past the unpleasant sound, at least on the broadcasts I have heard. She has been compared to Gwyneth Jones but Jones had so much beauty in her voice. I have hard time believing that Herlitzius ever had a beautiful instrument.

      • Buster

        She has Peter, Erwartung.

        She has cancelled her Chicago Isoldes (Act 2, in concert with the CSO) since, but will be back as Marie, in Carnegie Hall.

        I do like her timbre a lot, by the way. In that Elektra quiz we had a while back she really stood out among the belters, and the camp singers.

      • Regina delle fate

        Peter -- her voice doesn’t have the depth and colour of Gwyneth’s, but she looks and occasionally sounds a bit like her. That she is a fan of Gwyneth’s comes as no surprise.

        • peter

          I would love to hear Herlitzius live because the broadcasts I have heard are just not flattering to her voice.

          Stemme, who I have heard live on several occasions is quite impressive in the theater. The voice is big, rich and warm and her stage presence is very powerful but the broadcasts I have heard make her voice sound effortful and strident.

      • Salome Where She Danced

        Last week in the Deustche Oper Berlin Ring cycle: Skinny Girl Brunnhilde flung herself around the rather frayed Gotz Friedrich tunnel like a Zumba instructor on 6 cans of Red Bull. The voice: eerily reminiscent at times of Barbara Hendricks (but larger in volume). No bottom at all, but an edgy and squally top that sliced even through Rattle’s “Down Boy!” conducting. Rather fun to watch EH plant herself, feet apart, go rigid, open her mouth as wide as it can humanly go, and pour out vast amounts of jolie-laide sound that made ears ring up in the nosebleed section of the house.

        • Buster


        • Salome Where She Danced

          Also fun: watching EH interact with her two big American “sisters”: Heidi Melton and Ronnita Miller.

          • Buster

            I get it, you saw her in Die Lustige Nibelungen!

    • Regina delle fate

      Kruno -- Diction was always Barstow’s Achilles’ heel, although she was aware of the problem and tried hard. I think Herlitzius has a bigger, at least more penetrating timbre, with its steelier edge. Barstow always wanted to sing Elektra but she must have realised that it was beyond her. I remember her saying in an interview how Renata in the Fiery Angel -- which she only ever sang in Adelaide -- almost wiped her out. Herlitzius has Renata in her forthcoming plans, apparently.

      Breslik is a Mozart tenor in the Dermota/Simoneau/Krenn mould but his fans think he’s a Wunderlich. He is excellent as Tamino and Ferrando at Glyndebourne, his RO Ottavio and Lensky not so impressive.

  • operaassport

    What do 15 posts about Herlitzius have to do with mourning the passing of the great Patrice Chereau?

    • Salome Where She Danced

      She was the stah! of his last stage production. I have no doubt he adored her, and in his hands, she was a magnificent Elektra.

      • operaassport

        So what, let the thread be about him not endless discussion of her. That can happen elsewhere at another time.

        • Have to agree with you operassport -- we are morning a great director what has the quality of a singers diction got to do with his death?

  • Amnerees

    When I attended a Ring series at Bayreuth in 1977, the scheduled Siegfried, Rene Kollo I believe, fell during a stage rehearsal and broke a leg. The performance of Siegfried that I saw featured Chereau in a very brief loin cloth enacting the role of Siegfried while Kollo sang the music from just off stage. Even more impressive than his great physique and good looks was the fact that he knew the entire role word for word. His scene with the mechanical dragon was a sight I’ll never forget. Unfortunately he did not appear in the Goetterdaemmerung. Another tenor was brought in who was very modestly dressed.

    • tornado12

      I always wondered how that performance was. Tell me (us) please more about that performance. He was truly a one of a kind director (and sorry about the Herlitzius off-topic posts, as I started them).

      • Feldmarschallin

        There is no need to be sorry about that post and it was not off topic since she was his star in his last opera production. But this being a blog there was several comments about Herlitzius. Now if the comments would have been about Callas or Gruberova than they would have had nothing to do with Chéreau.

        • Feldmarschallin

          And especially since you are probably one of the very few who actually saw the performances twice live.

          • tornado12

            I can’t even describe the wonderful experience of that production. One of my favorite moments was the place before the recognition of Orest, when the alter Diener is supposed to come in with some others and kiss Orest’s feet. (actually this was the first time I ever saw that particular direction staged) Instead of kissing his feet they just hugged each other. It was very touching… Well, and of course the scene between Meier and Herlitzius. This was the way I would stage that scene. It should be very calm on the outside with Klytämnestra and Elektra sitting on that “conversation bench” (as we with Herlitzius decided to call that thing after the second performance (and no, I don’t know her personally, I just wanted some signatures and I got almost all, except Mazura and Randle)). But their eyes (especially Herlitzius’) were burning with fire. And the way the Aegisth scene was staged… I loved particurly the murder. Almost always it seems ridiculous when happening on stage, but that was really powerful. I can’t wait to have that on Blu-ray.

    • bluecabochon

      Yes, Chereau was blessed with beauty, talent, and depth. I enjoyed his infrequent turns as an actor in films as disparate as “Danton” and “The Last of the Mohicans”. I am shocked by his premature death and realization that there will be no new work from this visionary. :(

      • oedipe

        Chéreau was supposed to open the first Lissner season at the Paris Opera with a new production of Moses und Aron.

        • tornado12

          Oedipe, well this sounds like a punch in the face. The things he could have done… Did he do a Pelléas et Mélisande? That was always a dream production of me…

          • oedipe

            Here is a chronology of his opera stagings (published on a French opera forum):

            Patrice Chéreau et l’art lyrique (1969-2013)

            5, 8, 10, 12 juillet 1969, Festival de Spolète
            L’Italiana in Algeri de Rossini
            Thomas Schippers / P. Chéreau (mise en scène)
            Décors : P. Chéreau & R. Peduzzi
            Costumes : Jacques Schmidt
            Lumières : André Diot
            Patricia Kern, Enzo Dara, Pietro Bottazzo, Nucci Condo, Alberto Rinaldi, Benita Valente, Raymond Myers

            28, 31 octobre, 4, 7, 12, 14 novembre 1974, Paris, Garnier
            Les contes d’Hoffmann
            G. Prêtre / P. Chéreau
            N. Gedda, E. Manchet / M. Pena, R. Crespin (28 octobre)/ S. Sarocca, , C. Eda-Pierre, T. Krause, J. Rouleau

            11, 14, 17, 22, 25, 28 janvier 1975, Paris, Garnier
            Les Contes d ‘Hoffmann
            G. Prêtre / P. Chéreau
            E. Manchet, S. Sarroca, C. Eda-Pierre, N. Gedda, T. Krause, M. Sénéchal

            22, 25, 29 novembre, 2, 5, 9 décembre 1975, Paris, Garnier
            Les Contes d ‘Hoffmann
            J. Périsson / P. Chéreau
            Mady Mesplé / Annie Mory, S. Sarroca / E. T’Hézian, C. Eda-Pierre, N. Gedda, T. Krause, M. Sénéchal

            Etés 1976-1980, Festival de Bayreuth
            L’ ANNEAU DU NIEBELUNG de Richard WAGNER
            Pierre Boulez / P. Chéreau / R. Peduzzi

            Das Rheingold
            Wotan Donald McIntyre / Hans Sotin
            Donner Martin Egel
            Froh Heribert Steinbach / Siegfried Jerusalem
            Loge Heinz Zednik
            Alberich Hermann Becht
            Mime Helmut Pampuch
            Fasolt Matti Salminen
            Fafner Fritz Hübner
            Fricka Hanna Schwarz
            Freia Carmen Reppel
            Erda Ortrun Wenkel
            Woglinde Norma Sharp

            Die Walküre
            Siegmund: Peter Hofmann / Robert Schunk
            Sieglinde: Hannelore Bode / Astrid Schirmer / Jeannine Altmeyer
            Brünnhilde: Gwyneth Jones / Roberta Knie
            Wotan: Donald McIntyre / Hans Sotin
            Hunding: Matti Salminen / Karl Ridderbusch
            Fricka: Hanna Schwarz
            Gerhilde: Rachel Yakar / Carmen Reppel
            Ortlinde: Karen Middleton
            Waltraute:Dorsi Soffel / Gabriele Schnaut
            Schwertleite: Gwendolyn Killebrew
            Helmwige: Katie Clarke
            Siegrune: Marga Schiml
            Grimgerde: Ilse Gramatzki
            Rossweisse: Elisabeth Glauser

            Siegfried: René Kollo / Manfred Jung
            Mime: Heinz Zednik
            Brünnhilde: Gwyneth Jones / Roberta Knie
            Wanderer (Wotan): Donald McIntyre / Hans Sotin
            Alberich: Hermann Becht
            Fafner: Fritz Hübner
            Erda: Ortrun Wenkel
            Waldvogel: Norma Sharp
            (lors du troisième cycle de 1977, le rôle-titre a été chanté par René Kollo et joué par Patrice Chéreau)

            Brünnhilde Gwyneth Jones / Roberta Knie
            Siegfried Jess Thomas / Manfred Jung
            Hagen Fritz Hübner
            Alberich Hermann Becht
            Gunther Franz Mazura
            Gutrune Jeannine Altmeyer
            Waltraute Gwendolyn Killebrew
            Woglinde Norma Sharp
            Wellgunde Ilse Gramatzki
            Flosshilde Marga Schiml
            1. Norne Ortrun Wenkel
            2. Norne Gabriele Schnaut
            3. Norne Katie Clarke

            8, 14, 17, 28 février, 4 et 7 mars, 3, 6, 9 mai 1978, Paris, Garnier
            Les contes d’Hoffmann
            J. Périsson/ P. Chéreau
            K. Riegel, D. Chlostawa, S. Sarroca, C. Eda-Pierre, J. Van Dam / T. Krause (mai)

            24, 27 février, 2, 7, 10, 13, 15, 21, 24 mars1979, Paris, Garnier
            P. Boulez / P. Chéreau
            T. Stratas, Y. Minton, F. Mazura, R. Tear, K. Riegel

            29 mai et 1 juin 1979, Milan, Scala
            P. Boulez / P. Chéreau
            Slvaka Taskova Paoletti, Y. Minton, F. Mazura, R. Tear, K. Riegel

            1, 4, 7, 12, 15, 18, 21 décembre, 21, 25, 28, 30 avril, 3 mai 1980, Paris, Garnier
            Les contes d’Hoffmann
            S. Cambreling / P. Chéreau
            K. Riegel, D. Chlostawa, S. Sarroca, C. Eda-Pierre / E. Lubin (21, 25, 28 avril), T. Krause

            5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 12, 13, 14 juin 1984, Milan, La Scala
            Lucio Silla de Mozart
            Sylvain Cambreling / P. Chéreau / R. Peduzzi / J. Schmidt
            Giunia; ; Lella Cuberli / Erie Mills
            Celia; ; Christine Barbaux / Patrizia Pace
            Lucio Silla; Anthony Rolfe-Johnson / Ezio di Cesare
            Cecilio; Ann Murray / Raquel Pierotti
            Lucio Cinna; Mariana Nicolesco / Britt-Marie Aruhn
            Aufidio Aldo Bottion

            30 octobre au 18 novembre 1984, Nanterre, Théâtre des Amandiers
            Lucio Silla de Mozart
            Sylvain Cambreling / P. Chéreau / R. Peduzzi / J. Schmidt
            Giunia; Lella Cuberli
            Celia; ; Christine Barbaux
            Lucio Silla; John Stewart
            Cecilio; Raquel Pierotti / Martine Dupuy
            Lucio Cinna; Britt-Marie Aruhn
            Aufidio Ludovic de San

            22, 24, 27, 29 janvier 1985, Bruxelles, Opéra Royal de la Monnaie
            Lucio Silla de Mozart
            Sylvain Cambreling / P. Chéreau / R. Peduzzi / J. Schmidt
            Giunia; Lella Cuberli
            Celia; ; Christine Barbaux
            Lucio Silla; Anthony Rolfe-Johnson
            Cecilio; Raquel Pierotti
            Lucio Cinna; Britt-Marie Aruhn
            Aufidio ad van Baasbank

            Wozzeck de Alban BERG
            Daniel Barenboim / Patrice Chéreau
            Franz Grundheber (Wozzeck), Waltraud Meier (Marie), Graham Clark (le capitaine), Günter von Kannen (le docteur), Mark Baker (le tambour-major)
            Staatskapelle de Berlin
            (Théâtre du Châtelet, Deutsche Straatsoper Berlin, Tokyo)
            Prix du Meilleur Spectacle Lyrique du Syndicat de la Critique

            28 et 30 juillet 1994, 3, 11, 15, 19, 24, 26 août 1994, Salzbourg
            Don Giovanni de Mozart
            Daniel Barenboim/ Patrice Chéreau
            Ferruccio Furlanetto, Bryn Terfel, Matti Salminen, Peter Seiffert / Laurence Dale, Andreas Kohn, Lella Cuberli, Catherine Malfitano, Cecilia Bartoli / Darla Brooks

            27, 31 juillet 1996, 2, 6, 9, 12 août 1996, Salzbourg
            Don Giovanni de Mozart
            Donald C. Runnicles / P. Chéreau
            Ferruccio Furlanetto, Bryn Terfel, Paul Groves, Kurt Rydl, José Fardilha, Lella Cuberli / Viktoria Lukianetz, Catherine Malfitano, Vesselina Kasarova

            09, 13, 15, 17, 19, 21, 23, 26, 28, 30 juillet 2005, Aix-en-Provence
            Cosi fan tutte
            Daniel Harding/Chéreau
            Wall, E. Garanca, B. Bonney, S. Degout, Mathey, R. Raimondi

            12, 15, 18, 21, 26, 29 septembre, 5, 7, 10, 13, 15 octobre 2005, Paris, Garnier
            Cosi fan tutte
            Wall, Garanca, Bonney, Degout, Mathey, R. Raimondi

            3, 5, 7, 9, 11 juin 2006, Vienne, Theater an der Wien
            Cosi fan Tutte
            Garanca, Degout, Wall, Mathey, McLaughlin, R. Raimondi

            23, 25, 27, 30 octobre, 3, 6, 8 novembre 2006, Paris, Garnier
            Cosi fan tutte
            Wall, Minutillo, Bonney, Degout, Mathey, R. Raimondi

            13, 15, 18 mai 2007, Vienne, Wiener Festwochen
            29 mai, Amsterdam, Holland Festival
            16, 18, 20, juillet 2007, Aix-en-Provence
            De la maison des morts
            Pierre Boulez / Patrice Chéreau
            Alexandre Petrovitch Goriantchikov : Olaf Bär
            Alyeya : Eric Stoklossa
            Filka Morosov : Stefan Margita
            Le grand prisonnier : Peter Straka
            Le petit prisonnier : Vladimir Chmelo
            Le commandant : Jiri Sulzenko
            Le vieillard : Heinz Zednik
            Skouratov : John Mark Ainsley
            Tchekounov : Jan Galla
            Le prisonnier ivre : Tomas Krejcirik
            Le prisonnier cuisinier : Martin Barta
            Le Pope : Vratislav Kriz
            Le jeune prisonnier : Olivier Dumait
            Une prostituée : Susannah Haberfeld
            Le prisonnier / Don Juan : Ales Jenis
            Le prisonnier Kedril : Marian Pavlovic
            Chapkine : Peter Hoare
            Chichkov : Gerd Grochowski
            Tcherevine : Andreas Conrad
            Acteurs :
            Alexander Braunshör, Alexander Strauss, Darko Vukovic, Dominik Grünbühel, Elsayed Kandil, Günther Matzka, Helmut Gebeshuber, Karl Hoess, Kurt Raubal, Max Mayerhofer, Mortiz Vierboom, Rainer M. Gradischnig, Thomas Bäuml, Viktor Krenn, Florian Tröbinger, Michael Reardon
            Arnold Schönberg Chor
            Chef de chœur : Erwin Ortner
            Mahler Chamber Orchestra

            6 décembre 2007, Milan, Scala
            L’Histoire du soldat
            D. Barenboïm, dir
            P. Chéreau, récitant

            7, 11, 20, 23, 28 décembre 2007, 2 janvier 2008, Milan, Scala
            Tristan und Isolde
            Daniel Barenboïm / Patrice Chéreau
            Décors Richard Peduzzi
            Costumes Moidele Bickel
            Isolde Waltraud Meier
            Tristan Ian Storey
            Marke Matti Salminen
            Brangäne Michelle de Youn
            Kurwenal Gerd Grochowski
            Melot Will Hartmann
            Ein junger Seeman Alfredo Nigro

            5, 8, 12, 17, 25 février 2009, Milan, Scala
            Tristan und Isolde
            Daniel Barenboïm / Patrice Chéreau
            Décors Richard Peduzzi
            Costumes Moidele Bickel
            Isolde Waltraud Meier
            Tristan Ian Storey / Robert Gambill
            Marke Matti Salminen
            Brangäne Liuba Braun
            Kurwenal Gerd Grochowski
            Melot Will Hartmann
            Ein junger Seeman Alfredo Nigro
            Ein Hirt Ryland Davies
            Ein Steuermann Ernesto Panariello

            12, 16, 21, 24, 28, novembre, 2 et 5 décembre 2009, New-York, Metropolitan Opera
            De la maison des morts de Janacek
            Esa-Pekka Salonen / Patrice Chéreau/..Thierry Thieû Niang
            Filka Morozov/Kuzmich…Stefan Margita
            Skuratov…………….Kurt Streit
            Shapkin……………..Peter Hoare
            Shishkov…………….Peter Mattei
            Gorianchikov…………Willard White
            Alyeya………………Eric Stoklossa
            Tall Prisoner………..Peter Straka
            Short Prisoner……….Vladimir Chmelo
            Prison Commandant…….Vladimir Ognovenko
            Old Prisoner…………Heinz Zednik
            Chekunov…………….Jeffrey Wells
            Drunken Prisoner……..Adam Klein
            Blacksmith…………..Richard Bernstein
            Priest………………John Cheek
            Young Prisoner……….Scott Scully
            Prostitute…………..Kelly Cae Hogan
            Prisoner/Don Juan…….Ales Jenis
            Prisoner/Kedril………Marian Pavlovic
            Cherevin…………….Andreas Conrad
            Actors: Wayne Brusseau, Jeff Burchfield, Bob Diamond,
            Marty Keiser, Peter John Lester, Michael Lewis,
            Collin McGee, Deric McNish, Michael Melkovic,
            Jon Morris, Vernon Morris, Björn Pederson,
            Jason Quarles, Peter Richards, Isaac Scranton,
            Damiyr Shuford, Jason Sofge, Carlton Tanis,
            Erwin E.A. Thomas, Steve Trzaska

            8 novembre 2010, Louvre
            L’Histoire du soldat
            D. Barenboïm, dir
            P. Chéreau, récitant

            9 novembre 2010, Louvre
            Wesendonck Lieder de Wagner
            Waltraud Meier

            10, 13, 16, 19, 22 juillet 2013, Aix en Provence
            Esa-Pekka Salonen / EP Salonen
            Evelyn Herlitzius (Elektra), Waltraud Meier (Klytämnestra), Adrianne Pieczonka (Chrysothemis), Mikhail Petrenko (Orest), Tom Randle (Aegisth), Franz Mazura (Der Pfleger des Orest), Florian Hoffmann (Ein junger Diener), Sir Donald McIntyre (Ein alter Diener), Renate Behle (Die Haufseherin, Die Vertraute), Bonita Hyman (Erste Magd), Andrea Hill (Zweite Magd), Silvia Hablowetz (Dritte Magd), Marie-Eve Munger (Vierte Magd), Roberta Alexander (Fünfte Magd)
            Coro Gulbenkian, Orchestre de Paris

            Jérôme Pesqué

            • Camille

              Very interesting to review and thank you and merci to you, as ever, M. Œdipe.

              Just a few months ago I got curious about the Bayreuth Götterdämmerung, and hauled it out from the library. All I could think, time and time again, was that it was die UrMutter of so much to follow and how, in this instance, it all made sense in the original.

              I also loved his beautiful Reine Margot and enjoyed the Train movie. It is indeed sad to think he still may have many more ideas for productions which we will never now have, and do hope the Met will resurrect his House of the Dead before too long.

    • Byrnham Woode

      Actually, Kollo was never scheduled for GOTTERDAMMERUNG at Bayreuth. He only did Siegfried in SIEGFRIED there, and Jess Thomas did GOTTERDAMMERUNG the premiere season (’76)with Manfred Jung taking over after that. Jung himself didn’t do “young” Siegfried until 1979, but he would have been the “modestly dressed” tenor seen by Amnereees in 1978 when Chereau performed his amazing feat.

      In 1978, Kollo was apparently voiceless at one performance, so he mimed the role while cover tenor Jean Cox sang from the wings. Cox had been a veteran Siegfried both at Bayreuth and elsewhere.

  • Todd

    Wow--didn’t know about the Stravinsky or the Wesendonck. Did anyone see these? (Apologies if there was a huge thread on this earlier.)

  • Amnerees

    Didn’t Chereau do a Faust for the Paris Opera early on? I thought that the one that came to the Met in the ’70s was his.

    • oedipe


      I don’t know the answer to your question, but the chronology that I posted does not include it and I am inclined to trust the musicologist Jérôme Pesqué, who has established it.

  • Amnerees

    You’d be correct to do so. The 1970s production of Faust at the Paris Opera was directed by Jorge Lavelli with sets and costumes by Max Bignens. It came to the Met in 1975 for two performances. I was misled by the Crystal Palace set and 19th-century industrial steel staircases and balconies which may have inspired Chereau when he was developing his Bayreuth Ring.

    There’s a film of this production on YouTube with the three original principle singers.