This year, the Aix-en-Provence Festival invited the British stage director Katie Mitchell for a unique show: excerpts from Bach cantatas, which were initially written for the church community in Leipzig , where Bach was a Cantor.
A passionate of classical music, Katie Mitchell has already staged several operas, including two operas in Aix-en-Provence, where she was notably greatly acclaimed for Written on Skin in 2012. She also knows Bach's music very well since she has staged St. Matthew's Passion in Glyndebourne in 2007. This year, she has been challenged to dramatize and theatralize another great part of Bach's sacred repertoire: his cantatas.
"What I think is very special about Bach is that many people who are not Christian find that his music is soothing. In a certain way, my production of Trauernacht wonders why this music is still so important today," declared Katie Mitchell to the French newspaper Libération on the 19th of June.1
The cantatas will be conducted by Raphaël Pichon, a young conductor who is barely 30, the music director of the Ensemble Pygmalion. A true specialist of the baroque repertoire, Raphaël Pichon has recorded several masses by Bach on the Alpha label. All of them were praised by the critics (Diapason d'or of the year, Telerama's FFFF, Gramophone's Editor's Choice, ...) Raphaël Pichon was first a chorus singer, before he became a soloist singer (he notably sang in Aix-en-Provence in 2010 for a performance of the Monteverdi Madrigals with Kenneth Weiss), and then a conductor. His perfect knowledge of the chorus and the voice will undoubtedly help him conduct these Bach cantatas the best way.
1 "Bach me procure l’optimisme dont j’ai besoin," interview with Katie Mitchell, Libération, 19 June 2014. Read here (French only).
New production of the Festival d’Aix-en-Provence and of the Académie européenne de musique. In coproduction with Wiener Festwochen.
Picture: Festival d’Aix-en-Provence ©P.Berger/ArtcomArt
With Werner Güra (The Evangelist) and Stephen Morscheck (Jesus) – Orchestre de Chambre de Paris
John Eliot Gardiner's tour with the Monteverdi Choir and The English Baroque Soloists