Messiaen's Saint François d'Assise

Pierre Audi (stage director), Ingo Metzmacher (conductor) – WIth Rod Gilfry (Saint François), Camilla Tilling (The Angel) – De Nederlandse Opera

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Pierre Audi — Stage director

Jean Kalman — Set designer, lighting

Angelo Figus — Costume designer

Erwan Huon — Video

Klaus Bertisch — Dramaturgy

Camilla Tilling — L'Ange

Rod Gilfry — Saint François

Hubert Delamboye — Le Lépreux

Henk Neven — Frère Léon

Koor Van De Nederlandese Opera

Martin Wright — Chorus master

Residentie Orkest

Ingo Metzmacher — Conductor

Program notes

Commissioned in 1975 by the Opéra national de Paris, Olivier Messiaen's opera is here stage directed by Pierre Audi for the Nederlandse Opera.

A spiritual father for the 20th century maestri (Boulez, Stokhausen or Xenakis), Olivier Messiaen was, since the beginning of the 1930s, renowned as a master of his art. A believer, a sacred music lover, but also a passionate birds lover, he initiated a huge avant-garde in orchestral music.

When Rolf Liebermann commissions an opera to Olivier Messiaen, the composer first hesitates. But Messiaen has an idea: write about the monk St Francis of Assisi, the saint who is the most similar to the Christ, and who speaks to birds. It took eight years to Messiaen to compose, orchestrate and write a libretto for this hagiographic opera, premiered in 1983 under the baton of Seiji Ozawa.

It is a well known fact that St Francis of Assisi, the monk who cures the lepers thanks to the infiny love God gives him, and preaches sermons to the birds, has also inspired other artists such as Petrarca or Liszt. Messiaen writes this story after the Bible, but focuses on the miracles and almost fairy elements of the tale.

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