A Happening at Opéra comique

Lighting by Jean Kalman and staging by Christian Boltanski make miracles

Lighting by Jean Kalman and staging by Christian Boltanski make miracles

Sunday night is not my favorite evening to go out but the association of artist Christian Boltanski and Jean Kalman, the most brilliant lighting engineer alive, made it a must to attend « Pleine Nuit », a performance at Opéra Comique, which is under works until 2017. Described as an « Errance poétique et musicale dans le chantier de l’Opéra comique », this twenty minute adventure is intriguing, exciting and totally unpretentious. It is also beautiful thanks to Franck Krawyczyk’s music and soprano Leïla Benhamza’s voice.

Soprano Leïla Benhamza

Leïla Benhamza,  singing on a field of odorant roses

When you arrive on the dot, on the hour or the half hour, you are presented with beautiful white head helmets with a light. Like minors wear in the coal mines. The crowd of art lovers, curious visitors, subscribers to Opéra comique or parents with children who don’t know what to do on the week end, waits patiently for the opening of the doors. Fifty people are admitted at a time from 6pm to 11 pm. Then two by two, you walk into a corridor with wood panelings which protect the theatre under works.

The spectators white lights contrasts with warmer stage lights

The spectators’ white lights contrast with warmer stage lights

And immediately the dark atmosphere created by Christian Boltanski (who worked among other themes on children of the Shoah) invades the room in a mist. Strange people with fabric masks are sitting down, a tuba player, some trumpet or trombone players are performing in a niche. It is hard to see clearly, the lights, the mist, the dust give you a feeling of confusion and uncertainty. It is not frightening, just slightly off putting. Voices can be heard, a musical défilé takes place, while you are meandering in the wooden palisades. Everyone is wondering what the surprise will be. We are in another world.

Tuba, trombones, trompettes, saxhorns, saxophones, sounds surge from everywhere!

Tuba, trombones, trompettes, saxhorns, saxophones, sounds surge from everywhere!

On the second floor, going up the stairs you see a sign with « 3 ème heure » written in blue light dots, you are on stage where more mist and more mystery awaits you. There, soprano Leïla Benhamza sings a beautiful song by Franck Krawczyk and one wants to stand under falling artificial snow for a long time. There are children playing with the snow, many members of the public fascinated and a general feeling of quiet and respite.

The lights are like sculptures and art part of the show!

Lights are like sculptures and  part of the show!

It is fun and very, very pretty. Make sure to register for the two days of performance on 27 and 28 February.

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