Leo Delibes

A “spatial arrangement”, maybe, but managed by a theatre stage director. The almost naked stage – a few scattered music stands, blue linens and a lone chair plunged into semi-darkness – and the lighting work could evoke Bob Wilson’s plays, if his actors were directed by Johan Simons, manipulating and subverting expectations. The acting efficiently makes up for the very limited material means and the music is especially fine.

David Perrault Fomalhaut

This production illustrates brilliantly the extent to which French opera, so frequently disparaged, can dazzle us. The spatial arrangement, free of artifice and clutter and served by a young and technically excellent musical team, brings out the inner beauty and relevance of this work.

Nicolas Grienenberger

We were told this would be a concert, merely “semi-staged” by Richard Brunel, and we were presented with what can only be described as a minimalist but genuine mise-en-scène! Simple blue sheets hint at the pond where the sacred lotus grows, then become the shack where the lovers take shelter, the whole thing subtly enhanced by a crafty lighting work, playing on transparency and shadows.

Antoine Brunetto Forum opéra

Folklore is eschewed in favour of a tale of passion. We appreciated the humorous nod from the “space designer”, who makes good use of the music stands throughout the opera – as fences, drawing tables or even weapons – but never as actual music stands!

Antoine Brunetto Forum opéra

With only a few sheets to symbolise the river and a beautiful lighting work, stripping down the relationships between the characters to their core, this forbidden love between a young Hindu girl and a British officer resonates in all its potency and timelessness.

Nicolas Grienenberger

The young woman is bound to a chair that is sometimes lifted above the stage, powerfully symbolizing her divine status, a harsh role she has been given in spite of herself by her father and her people. Perched on this chair, she performs the eagerly awaited “Bell Song”, imbued not so much with virtuosity as it is with terror, a spot-on interpretation of this scene, since the young woman is forced to sing in order to lure her lover, Gérald, out with the sound of her voice so that her father may kill him. A true moment of theatre.

Nicolas Grienenberger

The actors have not been forgotten and the characters are carefully fleshed out, deftly sidestepping reductive stereotypes. However, the greatest merit of this lovely matinée is to remind us that Lakmé should feature more prominently in the French repertoire – it certainly deserves the recognition.

Antoine Brunetto Forum opéra

Relegated to a mere “spatial designer” job, director Richard Brunel managed quite convincingly to make a virtue of necessity. Going above and beyond his original mission, he came up with an actual mise-en-scène, clean and sleek, with a strong direction of the cast, ultimately presenting us with a show full of deeply poetic simplicity.

Far from any trace of cheap orientalism, this version of Lakmé is entirely focused on its characters. The only geographical reminders are Nilakantha’s turban and the choir’s saris: Lakmé herself remains blond, draped in a plain black dress, simply a woman. The music stands scattered on stage become trees and, at one point, a table for Gérald to “draw a jewel”.

Nicolas Grienenberger

Leo Delibes

Opera in three acts, semistaged

Libretto Edmond Gondinet, Philippe Gille, based on Le Mariage de Loti by Pierre Loti

Musical director Roberto Fores Veses
Spatial arrangement Richard Brunel
Set designer Anouk Dell’Aiera
Lighting designer Laurent Castaingt
Assistant director Angélique Clairand
Dramaturg Catherine Ailloud-Nicolas

Choir master Daniel Bargier
Chœur and Orchestre de l’Opéra de Rouen Haute-Normandie

Produced by Opéra de Rouen Haute-Normandie


Petya Ivanova,
Jean-François Borras,
Christophe Gay,
Patrice Berger,
Marie Gautrot,
Blandine Folio-Peres,
Maïlys de Villoutreys,
Davy Cornillot
And Charlotte Baillot