French orchestra is thrown out of its theatre

French orchestra is thrown out of its theatre


norman lebrecht

October 15, 2018

Members of the National Orchestra of Bordeaux Aquitaine picketed the Grand Théâtre de Bordeaux yesterday after the theatre’s director Marc Minkowski replaced them with a training ensemble, the Musiciens du Louvre.

Minkowski was booed when he entered the pit for a performance of Offenbach’s La Perichole.

UPDATE: We have received the following clarification from the opera house:

In light of the misunderstandings that occurred during the premiere of La Perichole, on October 13th, and the protest by the SNAM-CGT Union, the general management of Opera National de Bordeaux would like to state the for the record the following items:
This production of La Perichole was a co-production with Palazetto Bru Zane with strict scheduling limitations, that did not match the schedule of Ochestre National Bordeaux Aquitaine and therefore made their participation impossible.
The first performance of La Perichole took place at the invitation of Cecilia Bartoli at the Salzburg Whitsun Festival in May of 2018. As that time, the ONBA was engaged in Bordeaux playing in the pit for the productions of Pinocchio and Elektra under the direction of Paul Daniel.
La Perichole was next performed in July 2018 at the Radio France Festival in Montpellier. At that time, the ONBA was engaged in Bordeaux for the season finale conducted by Jonathon Heyward.
La Perichole is now programmed at the Grand Théatre de Bordeaux this month, October 2018, and during this period the ONBA is engaged in Bordeaux both for the start of their symphonic season, and a recording with Marie-Nicole Lemieux.
As the invitation by Cecilia Bartoli – which was the starting point of this project – was made when all of the events mentioned above were already confirmed, it was impossible for the ONBA to play in the pit for these performances at the Grand Théâtre de Bordeaux.
The presence of Les Musicians de Louvre is part of a long standing tradition of welcoming guest orchestras, including: Pygmalion (in residence), the Orchestra of the Latvian National Opera, the Orchestra of the Limoge Opera, and the Chamber Orchestra of Europe, to only name a few…


  • John Higgins says:

    A training ensemble? It’s his ensemble which he created more than 30 years ago, and who he has performed with all over the world, in Aix, Salzburg etc. etc. To be fair, they are excellent, but I think it’s outrageous that they have replaced the theatre orchestra for the first production of the season, though once he was appointed director there, it was only a matter of time. I wonder what Paul Daniel makes of it all?

    • Mike Schachter says:

      Quite, a shocking way to treat people, but the Musiciens du Louvre have been around for many years and very impressively.

    • Peter Phillips says:

      I seem to remember reading that Les Musiciens du Louvre have lost their subsidy. Maybe they are now looking for alternative funding sources. However, the playing of the ONBA in their outdoor demonstration was very pleasant on a warm
      Autumn evening in Bordeaux.

  • John Rook says:

    Apparently, recording obligations conflicted with the Offenbach rehearsal period:

    In any case, who starts a season with an operetta?

  • Jean Christophe says:

    Please give the full news:
    the orchestra was not available to rehearse the opera !!!!!
    The orchestra in the pit has recorded reference versions of other offenbach operas !!!!
    It was a great performance !!!!!!!

  • John Higgins says:

    Something doesn’t ring true in that explanation from the management. If it was simply an issue of scheduling, making it impossible for the ONBA to play for the performances in Bordeaux, why are they making their voices heard so strongly? ‘As the invitation by Cecilia Bartoli – which was the starting point of this project – was made when all of the events mentioned above were already confirmed’?? Seems strange, as one would have thought that however far in advance the symphonic season/recordings are planned, the time period for the first production of the year at the theatre would be kept free by the orchestra.

    • DB says:

      Of course it wasn’t just a scheduling issue – and who makes the schedule anyway? Minkowski inviting his period band and himself into the house which he manages is already well over the limits of conflict of interest, but to do it so blatantly at the start of the opera season is a blow in the face of the orchestra members and of the Bordeaux taxpayer.