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LA MONNAIE DE MUNT

Open letter

From Peter de Caluwe

Reading time
5 min.

Despite the second wave of coronavirus infections and the corresponding tightening of sanitary measures, our teams have kept up the hard work behind the scenes in recent weeks to ensure a return to the Theatre in optimal conditions. General director - Intendant Peter de Caluwe guides you through our renewed programming for the second half of the season.

Looking forward, that is what we have always done. Over the past few weeks, due to the forced silence on our stage, it even became the only thing we could do. When we cancelled our Die tote Stadt performance series at the end of October, it was clear that, in the current context, it would be impossible for us to maintain much of the planned seasonal programming. That was no reason to pack it in though. As far as I'm concerned, the need to create is the foundation of an art house. Over the past month, we have therefore made every effort to be able to do so again as soon as possible. To offer you once again the prospect of a diverse and high-quality programme, which we can produce in a safe manner.

We have tried to retain planned performances as much as possible. This is because these are projects that I have placed on our programming primarily for their outstanding artistic quality, and which I still want to present to you. In this uncertain year, I also felt it was crucial to honour, as much as possible, the agreements made with artists – after all, of all the cultural professionals, they are the ones who have been hit the hardest by this crisis. In this way, we have managed to retain all recitals and to continue the collaboration with various production teams and singers. We have, however, had to shift - and reshuffle - some of the projects.

We have based our renewed programme on three pillars. As of February we will focus on the oeuvre of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. Under the direction of our music director Alain Altinoglu, we are presenting a semi scenic version of Der Schauspieldirektor, for which Brussels’ three 'theatre directors' Michael De Cock, Fabrice Murgia and myself are making a contemporary adaptation. The planned recital by father and son Prégardien and the concert Mozart Akademie with Raphaël Pichon and Sabine Devieilhe will also be centred on the Austrian child prodigy. Even the youngest opera lovers will be able to discover his works at a special children's concert, including excerpts from Die Zauberflöte by musical storytellers Alain Altinoglu and Filip Jordens. Children are particularly spoiled in this second half of the season with our family opera A Song for the Moon. This enoa project by the young composer Mathilde Wantenaar is based on Toon Tellegen's eponymous fable, and will receive its world premiere in cooperation with a number of European partners.

Then we put Benjamin Britten in the spotlight, with the planned chamber opera The Turn of the Screw as the centre of gravity of this programme axis. We've had to move the haunting ghost story up a bit in the calendar, but all the protagonists for this project remain on board: director Andrea Breth, conductor Ben Glassberg and La Monnaie faithful Sally Matthews. We continue this line in a symphonic concert in which Music Director Alain Altinoglu links the Four 'Sea Interludes from Peter Grimes to another work from 1945: Shostakovich’s Ninth symphony. Contratenor Bejun Mehta forms the common denominator between this and the previous pillar. In his recital he presents works by Mozart as well as by Britten. Even in our Concertini, we apply this line: In our chamber music series, Britten meets his Nordic colleagues Jean Sibelius and Edvard Grieg, who are also on the programme in the two Nordic Moods concerts - also conducted by Alain Altinoglu.

This exceptional season will round off with a focus on Italian music. The colossal project Bastarda cannot be presented in the desired form in the current situation. The project, together with the planned French 'grand opéra’ Henry VIII, will be shifted to the spring of 2023. Still, the presence of a wonderful multitude of belcano specialists tempted us to offer a new opera project: On two evenings, large excerpts from Donizetti's La favorita and Rossini's Elisabetta, regina d'Inghilterra, tell an intriguing story about royal favouritism.

In June, we end the cultural season with a new production of Tosca. This opera of all operas from Puccini has not been performed on our stage for twenty years. The young Spanish director Raphael R. Villalobos can have a crack at it, while in the orchestra pit our chief conductor Alain Altinoglu is in charge of the music. For this co-production initiated by La Monnaie we found in no time four international partners – but the premiere is for Brussels. This confirms, on the one hand, that the young director is an artist who speaks the language of my colleagues, but on the other, that opera houses throughout Europe are ready to take up their core task again. With no less than sixteen(!) planned performance dates, we also want to give as many people as possible the chance to finally come and enjoy opera again.

I am very excited that we can look forward to these new projects and hope to be able to experience them together with you.

Peter de Caluwe

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