L'enfant et les sortilègesOpera in one act, with music by Maurice Ravel to a libretto by Colette
Grégoire Pont’s remarkable work avoids easy technical effects and always sticks to the truth of text and music. Never has the meaning of 'spells' been so well embodied. The result is a masterwork where the stage setting shows unexpected details, designed with a great sense of poetry on the screen.
This light and innovative semi-staged production brings to life the magical world of one of the most enchanting pieces of the operatic repertoire.
Created by the inspirational new team of animator Grégoire Pont and director James Bonas, this staging uses advanced projection techniques to capture the fantasy and poetry of the piece. Highly versatile, it is conceived to be equally impactful on the opera stage or in the concert hall, where it can form one half of a programme.
Commissioned by Opéra de Lyon in association with L'Auditori de Barcelona and Maestro Arts.
In L’enfant et les sortilèges, Ravel captures the world of the child. A boy is scolded by his mother and left alone in his room. Rebellious and fractious, he causes mischief. The objects of his tantrum - the armchair, grandfather clock, teapot and teacup, fireplace, even the characters in the torn wallpaper and his Arithmetic homework - come to life and turn against him.
Outside in the garden, the tree and animals - dragonfly, frog, bat and nightingale- complain of his behaviour towards them. After a tussle, the boy bandages a squirrel's wounded paw with a ribbon. Seeing his new kindness, the creatures lead him back to the house.
The magic of the garden turns to moonlight enchantment - the child has learned his lesson.
My wish is to use animation as a living matter. Not to project video sequences on a screen as so often happens in concert, but that the animation turns up where one least expects it: taking over a body, escaping from a mouth or dancing like an animated motif on a dress.
This semi-staged version of L’enfant et les sortilèges is a marvellous opportunity for me to play with my graphic universe.
One has the very strong feeling that Ravel uses this opera to demonstrate the amplitude of his musical palette. This is how I conceive the animations – with the development of a variety of stage pictures to create a multitude of visual effects.
L'enfant is an extraordinary work - a miniature so detailed, so finely wrought that it contains whole worlds within it. The combination of Collette's imagination and Ravel's emotional and ambitious response to her text creates an amazing opportunity. Grégoire and I were clear about trying to find an approach to unleash that energy, and one that would set free both our minds and those of the audience. We found that when the singer, the animation and the piece align in one seamless moment that's exactly what happens - something is released in the theatre that is transporting and incredibly exciting.
Concept and animation: Grégoire Pont
Director: James Bonas
Stage and costume design: Thibault Vancraenenbroeck