The Mecca for BaroqueA pioneering festival in the 1980s, it is today considered the benchmark European opera festival, "the Salzburg of Baroque" according to the magazine Diapason for interpreting Baroque opera on period instruments. Anne Blanchard, its founder and artistic director, readily recalls how the whole repertoire, baroque, classical and romantic, was played on period instruments, right until the early 20th century.
Since the Beaune Festival was created, Anne Blanchard has put together no fewer than a hundred baroque operas, staged and in concert format, including 30 world, European or French premiere recreations; over 80 concerts of oratorios and church music; more than 40 recitals, over 10 symphonic concerts as well as a Baroque Vocal Academy.
The festival is guest of honour in historical venues of the wine capital, especially the Hospices de Beaune.Indeed, the courtyard with its famous glazed tile roofs hosts operas while the more intimate atmosphere of the beautiful Pôvres (Poor) room and its ship’s hull vault are set aside for recitals. If the summer proves temperamental, the Collegiate Basilica of Notre Dame de Beaune with its splendid Romanesque vaults will reverberate to the baroque accents of a range of ensembles.
A festival of Handel…
A historian and medievalist who’s passionate about early music, Anne Blanchard is particularly fond of the Italian opera seria of the 17th and 18th centuries, revealing to the public the missing links in the history of music and reviving the operas of Handel in full: Giulio Cesare conducted by René Jacobs, Orlando, Xerses and Rodelinda conducted by Paul McCreesh; Rinaldo and Tamerlano conducted by Christophe Rousset, Ariodante conducted by Federico Maria Sardelli, and Orlando conducted by René Jacobs.
The festival has also contributed to the rediscovery of the works of Rameau, Vivaldi, Lully and Pergolesi, and has developed an extensive discography collection (20 discs) in conjunction with the major French and European labels.
…Which turns Romantic
It was in 2014, with Rossini's La Cenerentola, that the festival introduced a new direction for its programme, an exploration of the Romantic repertoire continued every year with its customary high standards.
Recognised leaders and the younger generation
While the festival has managed to gather some of the world's greatest conductors (William Christie, René Jacobs, Marc Minkowski etc), it is also a proving ground for the younger generation (Rousset, McCreesh, Alessandrini, Biondi, Dantone, Haïm, Rhorer, Pichon) who have been able to conduct their first operas in Beaune. The festival, as a genuine talent scout, has brought to light many young talents who today sing in the world’s greatest opera houses: Sara Mingardo, Laura Polverelli, Andreas Scholl, Brian Asawa, Annick Massis, Raffaella Milanesi, Renata Pokupic and Ann Hallenberg.
The programme for 2017: the Festival celebrates 35 years
On the programme of festivities: 9 operas and oratorios in concert or in movements, including the Orfeo by Monteverdi, which prefigures the modern theatre, or Don Giovanni by Mozart, the “opera of operas”.
Recreations in world or French premieres such as the opera Mitridate by Scarlatti. New productions to rediscover such as Handel’s Ottone. Lully’s Alceste and the Oratorios and Motets of Marc-Antoine Charpentier; Mozart’s Great Mass in C, and at the closing of the festival, a sparkling, joyful performance entitled "Mozart: Life and Love" based around the operas Don Giovanni, The Marriage of Figaro, The Magic Flute and the Abduction from the Seraglio. In the romantic repertoire, performed on period instruments, the festival continues the Rossini cycle with Tancredi. Finally, 3 recitals by singers who made their debut in Beaune and have became stars, such as Andreas Scholl, Karine Deshayes and new talents such as the French counter-tenor Damien Guillon, disciple of Andreas Scholl.
More information at : festivalbeaune.com
In the festive tradition of the festival and keeping the best till last, a baroque buffet is being recreated based on 17th and 18th-century cook books in the gardens of the Hospices. More intimate and every weekend, pre-concert buffets in the historic cellars of the Hospices de Beaune.
Behind the scenes of the Festival, enjoy the rehearsals given in the Collegiate Basilica of Notre Dame to discover the work of the orchestras and soloists.