Just in: Music goes mute across France for the next month

Just in: Music goes mute across France for the next month


norman lebrecht

October 15, 2020

Representatives of music organizations are meeting the French Minister of Culture, Roselyne Bachelot, to discuss relief measures after Presidet Macron proclaimed a 9pm curfew in major cities, making performance almost impossible.

Mme Bachelot has promised ‘the necessary support measures to overcome this ordeal together’, but the mood is bleak.

‘Everywhere in France, the teams are working once again to urgently rethink their programming’, said Loïc Lachenal, director of Rouen Opera and president of the Forces Musicales (union of opera and orchestra employers). ‘But we cannot help feeling ambivalent. Torn between the desire to open up at all costs, and discouragement in the face of the scale of the difficulties.’

Read a full report here in Diapason.

Macron à l’opéra


  • Graeme Hall says:

    Not everywhere in France. Opera-Nice is still going ahead with its season at the moment, starting with Glass’s Akhnaten.

    • Henry says:

      This was inevitable. For professional reasons, I have had the terrible misfortune of being stuck in Paris during a big part of the current pandemic and have witnessed things that have shocked me and I will never forget.
      Even when things are “normal”, French people, in general, rarely show any signs of civility, kindness towards others or understanding of how to function as a collective group, as opposed to very childish, extremely selfish and inconsiderate behaviour.
      On six different occasions in Paris, I witnessed the most outrageously rude and uncivilised behaviour, even by usually low French standards, while in supermarkets, the metro and a hair salon. On three occasions, in an upscale supermarket, I witnessed a well-dressed customer enter without a mask and when politely asked by the management to put on a mask, they loudly and obnoxiously refuse, shouting insults and in one case the well-dressed man without a mask walked up to the store manager and forcibly coughed and spit in his face! As always in France, a country without any solidarity between the citizenry, nobody in the store came to his help, except me, and I too was shouted at by the man and he tried to cough on me too, before running out of the store shouting obscenities. Then, three days later, I was getting my hair cut and a customer comes in without a mask and when the manager asked him to put on a mask, he refused in the typically rude French way, without respect or manners. He said that he wouldn’t have his hair cut with a mask on. Guess what? The manager told him that it would be OK without a mask! Before I could even complain, another client said that it wasn’t right and then the usual stupid French storm of shouting and mutual insults took place, yet the man stayed there and had his hair cut without wearing a mask!
      I could share countless other similar observations, but I write this only to say that the fact that France now has the highest number of daily COVID-19 cases in Europe and one of the highest infection rates in the world comes as no surprise to me. France is an unbearably uncivilised country, where no respect is ever shown to others, where behaving like an uncivil fool is just normal and accepted, even in the upper echelons of society. So, it is no wonder why the country now finds itself in such a terrible situation with the number of cases.
      Of course, as always, the French Government will run to aid the people to only later have those same people attack, set fire to public offices (even concert halls) and demonstrate against something else that bothers them. It is a never-ending cycle of human misery that I can’t wait to escape from as soon as possible.

      • Sue Sonata Form says:

        I have visited France only twice in the past – mainly Paris and Strasbourg – and have found the French people as rude as you’ve written about here, with some few exceptions. I wanted to say to them (but I don’t have French) “there are many hundreds of Australians buried on French soil, so what’s with the arrogance?”

      • Mentally healthy says:

        I also live in Paris, and have been living there for the last 6 years. I have never once encountered a rude french person, no joke. You know the saying…. ‘when all the people you meet are rude, terrible, obnoxious, you should take a good look at yourself’!

        • Auguste says:

          You are the first person that I ever heard, who having lived in France, says that. I have been there a dozen or more times and have never felt so unwelcome and observed such absolutely disgusting rude behaviour nearly everyday that I was there. I also speak French quite well, having a French speaking Belgian father. Global surveys back my impression and that of the person above. I just try to avoid any contact with France and French people as much as possible and that has solved it for me! There are so many nice places and nice people in this world, that I don’t want to waste my time with them. Have a look at these surveys. They all show that not only do most people find the French rude, bad mannered and impolite, they seem to be number one in that category on nearly every international survey:




          • John Borstlap says:

            In general, the French are very nice to each other but they profoundly hate non-French people because they are a subhuman species spoiling their good time at the terrace on the corner and speaking too loudly in the shops. They come from all over the world with their sloppy customs, dirty shoes and bad dressing style, not to speak of their hairdo’s. They have no culture, no finesse, no style, in short: no civilisation, while the French are – in terms of sophisticated civilisation – at the top of the planet. They can’t help it, it is just a natural selection thing.


          • Holgar says:

            The video that you linked to your post above only underscores the opposite of what you write. The French are just simply an unhappy and miserable people and they spread that state of misery and unhappiness wherever they go, without respect of whether the other person is French or not. Enough also with perpetuating the false myth that French are elegant, stylish and romantic! What a fraud that is! Just watch the video that you linked in your post and then, next time you go to France, look down on the street at the dog poop every 20 meters, left there by “elegant”, “stylish” French people who show others that they couldn’t give a damn about them and then look at the people, the majority dressed in black, looking sad and unfriendly, with badly styled hair and men with unwashed and unshaven faces, most with bad breath stinking from cigarettes. Who would call that society “elegant” and “stylish”? It is all one big myth that doesn’t exist in reality. France is no different than going to Greece today. The actual residents have no connection to the glory of ancient Greece and are just decadent occupiers of the land of a once great society. The only difference is that in France they live in a state of denial as to what their state of reality really is and that explains the misery and sadness there.

          • John Borstlap says:

            To your information: of course the video was to underline the grave irony of the myth.

        • Paul Carlile says:

          Even if you are mentally healthy, you must be blind and deaf! Having lived in France four times longer than you, in several places, i regret to say that these accusations are mostly true. Obviously, one makes friends with fine individuals, but as a whole, French society is woefully uncivil.

          • John Borstlap says:

            Even in the rare cases when a frenchman has been able to overcome his prejudice concerning foreigners, there will still be cultural obstacles like when ‘Je t’adore’ is understood as ‘shut the door’. And how many foreigners do know where to keep your bread during dinner? (Yes, spoiler alert: it’s not where you would expect it.)

      • DB says:

        Please all, go take your anti-French prejudice elsewhere. The French are just as imperfect as anyone else.

  • Birchley Poundbottom says:

    Excellent news. Curfews are well known to be highly effective at controlling viruses. Looking forward to seeing those case numbers plummet. Real top quality leadership.

    • John Borstlap says:

      The picture may give the incorrect impression that the french president looks forward with relish to a month without classical music performances.

      • Ben G. says:

        Nevertheless, Président Macron does like music.
        The picture above shows him in the Strasbourg Opera house a few years ago, singing along with the Chorus. Hard to imagine other world leaders doing the same thing….

        He knows that this is a very hard decision for him to take in closing down cultural places at 9:00 PM. Luckily, the Strasbourg Philharmonic will continue their season (with reduced programming) since the town is not on the curfew list.

      • Clarrieu says:

        Actually, methinks he couldn’t care less…

    • Clarrieu says:

      «Real top quality leadership» Poundbottom, I sincerely hope you’re being ironic…

  • Zsolt says:

    No, music won’t go mute, only has to reorganize concerts and start 2 hours earlier
    France is still lucky, there are concerts, you can have audience till 1000 people and the state support financially also..compare some other countries or USA, french really cannot complain in this terrible situation.

    • John Borstlap says:

      Indeed, but they will find some reason for complaining, they won’t let go of their cherished tradition of government protests, cultivated so successfully since 1789.

    • Ruben Greenberg says:

      It is possible to start concerts two hours earlier on week ends, but not on a weekday. People work until a rather late hour in this country, especially those of the social class that attend Classical music concerts. Two hours earlier wouldn’t be early enough; you need to allow time to get home. 6 PM concerts are not an option. Audiences aren’t available at that time

      • Anthony Sayer says:

        If you have to pay your artists you might as well perform, even if you don’t have a full house. Who knows, maybe an earlier start time would tempt the otherwise reluctant to attend. We regularly do concerts in areas where the residents are too nervous to come into the centre at night for fear of not being able to get home safely.

  • Claude says:

    Only for nine metropoles (including Paris) which represent approximatively less than one third of the french population. and where the contamination figures are really bad …

    • Anthony Sayer says:

      But which are the major cultural centres of the country. It’s twice the population of Portugal being locked down.

  • Dennis says:

    Do viruses take off between 9Pm and 6AM? Just as nutty as BoJo’s UK madness. Brain-dead politicians and media are destorying the world.

    • Anthony Sayer says:

      Spot on.

    • John Borstlap says:

      Just think a little bit….. After work, people get together, not only at home but also in public places where many unknown people are together in badly-ventilated spaces. It is meeting unknown people who can spread the virus which is the concern.

  • Luca says:

    Why shouldn’t concerts start at 6 p.m.?

    • Anthony Sayer says:

      No reason. It’s just that organisers might be nervous about not getting an audience. There might be other logistical problems – ushers etc – but I really wouldn’t know about that.