Renaud Donnedieu de Vabres, France's minister of culture and communication, announced Deschamps's appointment on September 7.
Deschamps, who has been appointed to a five-year term starting with the 2007-08 season, will succeed J_rêäme Savary, who has been at the head of the Op_ra-Comique since 2000. Last fall, the Op_ra Comique was declared a national theater, a status that provides the theater with both a larger budget and a mandatory retirement age of 65, which Savary will reach in 2007.
The Op_ra-Comique has suffered from financial troubles over the last few years, with little government funding; the theater's 1999-2000 season had to be canceled for lack of funds. Savary, brought in the following year, managed to keep the theater more or less afloat, but is thought to have taken the repertoire away from its roots.
Deschamps has been charged with moving the theater away from Savary's program of popular musical-theater, and more toward the French-style comic operas that the company produced when it was founded in the 18th century (such as works by Gre_try, Adam, Auber, Donizetti, and Meyerbeer), in addition to Baroque and contemporary works.
At a press conference, Deschamps said his aim was to "restore to the Op_ra-Comique its prestigious past."
Among Deschamps' acclaimed productions, produced with his wife Macha MakeÇeff, are Offenbach's Brigands at the Paris Opera, Mozart's The Abduction From the Seraglio at the Aix-en-Provence Festival, and Shostakovich's Cheryomushki at the Op_ra national de Lyon.
Deschamps was chosen from a short list that included conductor and Baroque-music specialist Marc Minkowski; Christian Schirm, director of the Paris Opera's training program, Atelier lyrique; and Jacques H_doin, general director of the Th_ê¢tre du Chê¢telet.