It is the Cinderella story turned upside down. The new opera by Belgium's most renowned living composer, Philippe Boesmans, Yvonne, Princess of Burgundy, opens the season at Brussels' opera La Monnaie with nine performances from September 9 to 21.
The libretto, by Luc Bondy and his wife Marie-Louise Bischoffberger, retells the story of the Polish playwright Witold Gombrowicz. The introspective prince, constantly badgered to get married, as a protest marries a plain girl, speechless and passive, to spite the royal court. Her presence, according to the opera's announcement, "has the tremendous capacity to reveal everyone's inner turmoil and frustrations" and she is thus marked for assassination.
Yvonne had its world premiere at the Opera National de Paris in January of 2009 where it was applauded warmly by both the audience and critics (including this writer) - not the typical reaction to contemporary fare. Librettist and acclaimed stage director Luc Bondy, who directed the work in Paris, will supervise the production in Brussels. Bondy has been a regular collaborator with Boesmans and this marks their third effort together. With Patrick Davlin conducting the orchestra and chorus of La Monnaie, the excellent French soprano Mireille Delunsch repeats her success as the dissolute Queen Marguerite and baritone Paul Gay returns as King Ignace. Also returning in the title role is the amazing actress, Dorte Lyssewski whose mute but very physical presence is a key to the drama.
La Monnaie (De Munt, in Flemish) will continue their ten-opera season, under the theme "Tolerance,/Intolerance," with new productions of Janacek's Kat'a Kabanova in October directed by Andrea Breth, Puccini's La Boheme directed by Andreas Homoki, Wagner's Parsifal directed by Romeo Castellucci and Meyerbeer's Les Huguenots in a production conceived by Olivier Py. Luigi Nono's opera Intolleranza 1960 was to be newly staged by Christoph Schlingensief in April but his recent passing has La Monnaie searching for a replacement. A world premiere in May is Toshio Hosokawa's new opera Matsukaze which was commissioned by La Monnaie. His 2005 opera, Hanjo was first seen at the Aix-en-Provence Festival in 2005 and is also part of the Brussels season.
The opera's website, in English, is at http://www.lamonnaie.be/en/