Mikhail Timoshenko at the Paris Opera, from the chrysalis to the butterfly

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The Opera

by Jean-Stéphane Bron

Until May 24 on operadeparis.fr

After having drawn the portrait of Christoph Blocher (1), leader of the Swiss extreme right, Jean-Stéphane Bron needed to change the atmosphere. “I wanted to immerse myself in the life of a collective whose energy was at the service of an exhilarating, positive project”, remembers the filmmaker. He therefore did not hesitate to take his cameras in the corridors, halls and dressing rooms of the Paris Opera, to fix on the film ” in an egalitarian way, the most humble as well as the most senior, the costume designers like the director, the choristers like the stars of the lyric world

Journey to the heart of a vibrant and brilliant society

The Opera, released in 2017, tastes like a journey to the heart of a vibrant and brilliant society, with its crises and its joys, all stretched towards its raison d’être: raising the curtain, every evening or almost, on a moment of dream and emotion.

Along the way, a figure emerges. Or rather burst the screen. A still childish face, a deep look and a smile that is all the more irresistible as he ignores his power, a very young singer, Mikhail Timoshenko, immediately attracts attention and sympathy. He has just joined the Opera Academy to perfect his art, learn roles and repertoires, refine his acting …

“Neither Jean-Stéphane nor I knew the Paris Opera, he evokes a few years later. We opened the same doors together with a naive and unprejudiced look. But what a shock to be confronted for the first time with this colossus!

The happiness of the first times

Trying on a costume in rehearsal with pianist Jeff Cohen who teaches him, full of benevolence, the secrets of breathing, Mikhail Timoshenko tries some awkward French words, meets his comrades from the Academy but also one of his idols , Welsh bass Bryn Terfel. “Talking quite simply and sharing a meal in the canteen with such a star was a real miracle! “, still marvels the singer.

The young Russian bass baritone, born in 1993 in Kameikino on the edge of the Urals, is now also playing in the big leagues. Mozart extended his hand to him: critics and the public hailed his performance full of panache in the hero of Marriage of Figaro at the Nancy Opera as well as his charismatic Masetto in Don Giovanni at the Palais Garnier.

→ READ. “Don Giovanni”, at the same time in Paris and Strasbourg

I progress step by step, while some colleagues of my generation are already in demand in Vienna or New York, he tempers modestly. My deep voice is above all attached to the roles of mature men: I will not be able to approach them validly on the musical level as on the dramatic level until some time. “

The intimate garden of melody

Meanwhile, Mikhail Timoshenko cultivates a more intimate but no less flourishing garden, that of the lied and the melody. Listen, on the website of Wigmore Hall in London (2), the final of the “International Song Competition” of which he won the first prize in 2019: in duet with the excellent pianist Elitsa Desseva, he deploys his warm tone to opulent harmonics in a choice of English “songs”, preceding a moving page of Tchaikovsky, to give chills.

Winner of multiple lyrical trophies, the singer benefits from this “Spontaneous and luminous grace, of this abandonment, the mark of the great actors”, who had hit Jean-Stéphane Bron. “I am sensitive to music, of course, resumes the interested party, but just as much to the text. That’s why it’s so important to study the languages ​​in which you sing, “ he assures in a French that has become melodious and easy.

Constrained loneliness

The “Glaciation” of all concerts caused by the health crisis is accompanied for the young artist by “Forced solitude in a world that has suddenly stopped”. If he takes the opportunity to rediscover family joys, he also feeds these long inactive hours of reflection on the place of lyrical art in our society. “Silence and stillness are conducive to projecting ourselves out of everyday lifehe smiles. The flame that I burn at the idea of ​​resuming shows is not about to die out. “ Whatever the uncertainties which he does not hide, seize him with the idea of ​​a “next world” where culture is not on the front line.

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Pending reopening

While sanitary imperatives forced it to close its doors to artists as to the public, the Paris Opera broadcasts free of charge on its site certain shows filmed at the Bastille or at the Palais Garnier.

After Don Giovanni (Mozart), Carmen (Bizet) or The Barber of Seville (Rossini), amateurs will discover Boris Godounov by Moussorgski but also see or review the ballet Body and Soul by choreographer Crystal Pite.

The Paris Opera, which has had to cancel all of its performances since mid-March, estimates its deficit at 40 million euros. Not yet knowing whether, and under what conditions, it will be able to reopen its doors next September, he plans to anticipate a work campaign initially planned for the summer of 2021.

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