Muti faces storm at Lourdes

Muti faces storm at Lourdes


norman lebrecht

June 21, 2022

Two French teachers’ unions have protested to the Ministry of Education over a forthcoming performance of Mozart’s Ave verum corpus, conducted by Riccardo Muti in the Shrine of Our Lady of Lourdes.

The teachers claim that the performance, organised by Muti’s son-in-law David Fray, is an attack on the official secularism (laicité) of the French Republic and that students should not be encouraged to participate.

Too late to pray for a miracle?


  • Gustavo says:

    God in the form of COVID will judge.

    • Henry says:

      This is to be expected in France. There is nothing more to say, as France is locked in a narrow interpretation of life, religion and thinking outside of the box is taboo. You will NEVER meet a truly original thinking French person, nor will you ever meet an interesting warm-hearted French eccentric, as any thinking outside of their very narrow and parochial confines, will be met with immediate objections and consequences, so most interesting eccentrics are quickly weeded out in France and usually end up as isolated and rejected people. Very BORING and provincial society!

      • Gustavo says:

        You mean like in Switzerland?

        • Queen of Spades says:

          At least the Swiss are polite, educated and non confrontational.
          I would rather be in the company of a “boring” Swiss than an arrogant, rude and pretentious French person any day. They are insufferable and few humans can repel me more.

      • mary says:

        You mean like in the United States?

      • Orchestral Player says:

        Wow !!!!!
        How extraordinary you are so narrow minded yourself that you are willing to make such a preposterous sweeping statement ! The mind boggles.
        Please refrain from uttering such cretinous words.

      • Gustavo says:

        Would you say that this “narrow interpretation of life” in France is sufficiently described by “joie de vivre” and “laissez faire”?

      • La plus belle voix says:

        Thanks for that Henry. You sound quite a francophile. Some of my best friends are French, and the eccentrics among them enjoy a spot of gardening. But what do I know already?

      • MF Choi says:

        I think you are a bit generalised in judging the French people. I have a few French friends and I find them very open-minded people. Generous and warm heart.

  • Concertgebouw79 says:

    It’s a long story. In France the teachers are frequently the fisrt opponents of the catholics. Marcel Pagnol described that very well.

  • Lothario Hunter says:

    The real miracle will be if the Madonna lets him in. She may incinerate him at the door.

    The Madonna does have a good and forgiving heart, so for once the odds are in Muti’s favor. He may even get out of the Shrine a decent man (but don’t bet on it).

    • MD says:

      You should try as well. To stay with the religious theme, “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?” Luke 6:41 lol

    • Francis says:

      It’s not just him. It’s …

      Arianna Vendittelli, soprano
      Margherita Sala, contralto

      Felix Klieser, horn

      Chorus of Italian and Ukrainian Artists

      and the

      Orchestra Giovanile Luigi Cherubini


      Vivaldi, Magnificat
      Mozart, Ave verum corpus
      Mozart, Horn Concerto, K412
      Verdi, Stabat mater
      Verdi, Te Deum

      as part of Muti’s international “Ways of Friendship” series.

      Lourdes is a spiritual shrine, so making the case that four sacred works violate “laïcité” there will be impossible.

  • V.Lind says:

    Yikes — as if we did not have enough to put up with from the wokies, now we have music getting no-platformed because it has religious content? That wipes out masses of the greatest music ever written.

    These teachers need to go back to school. I would not condone any attack upon the shrine, but surely it, rather than a Mozart piece, is somewhat out of line with “laicité”?

    Are you not allowed to sing hymns in France? Christmas carols — carols, not the songs that US pop radio has foisted upon us? Jingle Bells okay, Silent Night not?

    As you probably may not say in France, God give me strength.

    • tet says:

      “Are you not allowed to sing hymns in France?”

      No more and no less than one is allowed to sing Islamic Nasheeds or intone Buddhist chants in public spaces in France.

      How would you like your neighbors knocking on your door to sing Kwanza songs to you?

      • La plus belle voix says:

        O-o o
        Seven days of celebration
        Nguzo Saba
        Seven days of celebration
        Habari gani

        Seven days of celebration
        Nguzo Saba
        Seven days of celebration
        Habari gani

        Sounds rather fun.

        PS: Tett, repeat the entire song again!

      • V.Lind says:

        Lourdes is of course a public space in that anyone may go there. But if non-believers go there is is like people looking for a fight.

  • Suitable prayer says:

    Virus nequitiae suae, tamquam flumen immundissimum, draco maleficus transfundit in homines depravatos mente et corruptos corde; spiritum mendacii, halitumque mortiferum luxuriae

    • tet says:

      Please see Pope Francis’s motu proprio Traditionis custodes on pains of excommunications you heretics.

  • Edoardo Saccenti says:

    Agaist what are the teachers, exactly? The piece (Mozart’s music), the place? The act of performing? All the three?

    • Concertgebouw79 says:

      The fact that the students are one moment in a place with religious spirit. it’s also political; In France historicly the teachers are more from the left or the extrem left and it’s a fact the catholics are more on the right. Now the kind of activists who don’t want this kind of events are in the extrem left. During a long time there was a battle of influences in the villages between the priest and the teacher. it was not exactly like in Italy where it was easyer to be catholic and communist. And in France it’s forbiden to put some religious objects in city hall or courthouses.

    • Carolyn-Rose says:

      That was precisely my first thought.

    • Jay says:

      But it’s ok to trample everybody down with secularism when you just know you’re right about all things seen and unseen.

  • Paracelsus says:

    Is Alexander joining the trip to pray for the miracle of more ticket sales in Chicago?

  • aleph says:

    Shouldn’t Muti be conducting instead at The National Shrine of St. Jude in Chicago, dedicated to the Patron Saint of Lost Causes?

  • MD says:

    Any teacher that wants to prevent students from listening to Mozart should seriously reflect on their vocation.

  • Gweltaz says:

    En France, séparation de l’ Eglise et de l’ Etat. Point final.

    • V.Lind says:

      It ain’t the Church and it ain’t the State. It’s a shrine — yes, a religious one — and the concert is a concert. The State has nothing to do with it, except as a tax-collector.

    • Novagerio says:

      En France, séparation de la culture et de l’Etat.
      Pas de nouvelles. Conard.

  • Hervé says:

    Le concert n’ est pas financé par
    l’ Etat et la présence des élèves est facultative. La laïcité est respectée.

    • Queen of Spades says:

      Sir, This is an English language blog.
      The fact that French people rank the lowest in foreign language skills is a national problem and an embarrassment to a poor education system. You must deal with that, but do not write entries on an English language blog in French, as many, and only French people would do. It speaks more of your own limited education and shows a lack of respect for those who read this blog who do not speak and have no interest in speaking French.
      S.v.p. Prenez cela comme quelque chose à réfléchir. Merci !

  • tet says:

    Lourdes is a ridiculous Disney Land, not as garish as the Vatican, but a profit center of Catholicism.

    Mozart is harmless, not so the Merchants of Lourdes.

  • tet says:

    It’s not about Mozart, it’s about the text: Imagine if Muti were conducting instead Die Zauberflöte at Lourdes, the teachers’ union would have nothing to say, but Catholics on the other hand would be up in arms protesting that Muti was desecrating holy place with paganism.

    Let’s be clear about what the teachers’ union is objecting to, the explicit Christian theology of the Ave verum corpus that the students are made to sing:

    Hail, true Body, born
    of the Virgin Mary,
    having truly suffered, sacrificed
    on the cross for mankind,
    from whose pierced side
    water and blood flowed:
    Be for us a foretaste
    in the trial of death.
    O sweet Jesus, O holy Jesus,
    O Jesus, son of Mary,
    have mercy on me. Amen.

    Would Catholics allow the students to sing “La, la, la, la” in place of the text at Lourdes? No, they want to hear the students to actually hail the true body of Christ at Lourdes.

    • V.Lind says:

      I suppose you sneer at Silent Night, too.

      An international conductor of my close experience for a time conducted a celebrated men’s and boys’ choir of a church renowned for its music. His other work, as a conductor of orchestras and smaller groups, included a great percentage of what is loosely called religious music. In actual fact he was quite without religious feeling — whether atheist or agnostic I do not know but he was distinctly irreligious in his personal life It in no way had an impact on his religious work — he fully understood the music and endeavoured to present it as it was written, as a glorification of God.

      Surely it’s as legitimate an artistic intention as any other? As a celebration of nature, of love, of war?

  • Sidelius says:

    It would be lovely if everyone could just have a neutral, live and let live tolerance of religion. You must, however, make exception for religions that insist on the absolute certainty and priority of their beliefs, and refuse to adapt to newer humanistic and scientific insights, not to mention even many intuitive norms of human decency. Also those wanting to impose their beliefs on everyone else. And imperialistic ones wanting to convert the whole world. And ones of misogynist leanings, or that like to destroy all musical instruments and forbid all music, or are complicit in child sexual abuse, or any number of forms of human exploitation, or would rather talk about the next life than champion the powerless in this one. And those who think they have a monopoly on morality. And those that give approval and support to patently evil politicians and parties, and their Trumpion effort to eviscerate democracy. And those complicit in the ongoing destruction of the planet. As to religions not behaving in those ways, I warmly
    welcome them.

  • TeeJay says:

    France has turned secularism into yet another intolerant religion.

  • ER says:

    Le pays où la contetation est un sport national.

  • Gustavo says:

    Everyone should make music a priority.

    Forget the idols and the shrines, which are nothing but props in a cheap ritual full of misconception!

    Only music is able to manifest belief in God who was created by mankind for mankind.

  • Glynne Williams says:

    Good grief, it’s a Catholic shrine where, guess what, they just might have Christian music!!!!

  • Jim says:

    Has nobody informed these muppets that the histories of Western music and society are inextricably linked with that of the Christian church?