• Talk and Tunes

Modern takes on classical music

Without a doubt, everybody listen to music. Maybe that right now, you’re listening to music. I won’t lie, that’s what I do. All kinds, ranging from Pierre Lapointe to Vivaldi passing by Depeche Mode and Adele.

The music, in all eras, is an integral part of life, even if through times and places its uses and people’s tastes have evolved. Nowadays, its worldwide broadcast exceeds anything classical musicians could have imagined, and internet network is -without a doubt- the reason why we share an incredible and new diversity in the same place and at the same time.

Here, the “classical music” term must be understood not only as music from classical movement -which takes place from the middle of the eighteenth century until the 1820s, a little bit of history is not too bad ! -. Here, it is understood as all kinds of music from centuries previous the 20th one.

Human creativity is constantly renewed, and this allows us to create new forms based on classical structures, such as opera and baroque music merged to cinema and theater, so as to be accessible to the greatest number.

A robot playing piano ©franckinjapan

The way we now listen to music, the way we discover things is that fast that everything becomes accessible to us. But it still remains some cliches in our heads that prevent us from watching and listening to other things, because we believe that it is not for us.

That’s what I was thinking until very recently, that is where I was wrong. I was sort of trapped, I misunderstood something and two hours later, amazed by what I had just seen and lived –on my theater seat, all I wanted was to sing at loud the music I was hearing-, and praying only to relive this experience.

The show was called I was looking at the ceiling and then I saw the sky, and believe me when I say that the theater ceiling truly disappeared too in my mind to make room for the starry sky !

Here is the link if you want to listen to the main title !

I was Looking at the Ceiling and then I Saw the Sky !

This show was composed by John Adams in 1995, it is a pop opera merged to a rock musical style, in two acts, based on the Los Angeles earthquake in 1994, describing the reaction of seven Americans of different ethnic and social origins. The title is a character’s replica who’s reacting to the ceiling falling apart.

The stage director Eugen Jebeleanu decided to create this show in 2020 in France, in an opera and in a contemporary theater. His work questions the notions of social norms, identity and freedom in our modern time.

This play rearranges the codes of classical music on which operas are based, and captures the energy of rock and pop themes to create a whole new style of music : the pop opera.

Usually, opera is considered as an elitist style of music, for rich people used to this culture, and is everything but inclusive to minorities such as young people and disadvantaged classes, due to a fairly high seat price and the idea of a lack of culture.

And what is innovative and really smart in this pop opera, created in a neighborhood and friendly theater, is that it brings and invite not only the classical music fans but also those of theater and pop, who come to hear traditional instruments, synthesizers and electric guitars.

Here if you want to hear the stage director interview : I Was Looking at The Ceiling and Then I Saw The Sky - Interview of Eugen Jebeleanu, stage director

This show sends waves of energy with its twenty music titles, each more lively than the other, even if one in particular stands out : the main title -link above-.

In strange ways, sometimes, a music that we hear doesn’t seem to us at first breathtaking, but then in a story and a specific moment something shines and explodes in us.


This play, wrote by Robert Garnier in 1573, talks about the mythological and tragic history of Phedre, a woman seduced by Thesee, king of athens, unfaithful lover neglecting Phedre and also father of Hippolyte, with whom Phedre falls in love.

If you want to go see yourself : TNP | Hippolyte

This baroque piece alternates dialogues and songs of a choir. The stage director chosen for the choir to merge actors and musicians to reinvent the baroque music. The musicians played cornetto, lute and theorbo, and a soprano singer was there too, unusual instruments.

For example, here is a photo of a lute :

©Le joueur de Luth, Le caravage (Gautier Poupeau)

And the music they made was incredible, a kind of mystical energies and vibrations submerging in a different time everyone who listened to them.

However, this baroque play with it music also baroque wasn’t at all old fashioned or reserved for a specific category of spectators who could be elitist and wealthy.

On the contrary, the objective of public relations and communication was to bring to the National People’s Theater (TNP of Villeurbanne) young people from various backgrounds and origins to make them discover another language and a type of music rarely present in theaters. That is how I get there, with no regret at all !

One of the music played : Cantata sopra il passacaglio (Diatonica) - L'Arpeggiata · Christina Pluhar

Another show, that a friend invited me to see, was staged by the writer and film director Christophe Honoré that you may have heard about. The show played at lyon opera was really worth it, even if the only places left were standing… -but at a very reduced price -


This opera in three acts, composed by Giacomo Puccini in 1899 and based on a play, initially takes place in Rome in 1800 but here the work of Christophe Honoré put the situation on our days.

© OPÉRA, LYON | Anthony

He sort of rewrote the staging of the play, where the main character is interviewed and filmed as a documentary speaking of her past life. He puts into abyme a woman speaking of her past life and in the same time, the same woman played by another character younger reliving events.

This system that the filmmaker master gives by the adaptation a modern vision of the opera, and open the doors to a greater diversity of spectators by the hybridization with an art –the cinema- that may attract young people more than opera, at least at first sight.

The recording of the show is freely available during this present periode : Festival International d'Art Lyrique d'Aix-en-Provence « Tosca » de Puccini au Festival d'Aix-en-Provence 2019, don't hesitate to go take a look !

During this confinement period, you might have seen on the internet that a lot of show recording and movies were freely available. This opens the the doors to all spectators accustomed and frustrated at not being able to move to see them in real life, but also to any curious person who just needs and wants to learn things and passing time.

To introduce children to music, without giving them prejudices, new teaching and pedagogical methods become playful so as to introduce them with fun and gently into art and culture.

©Alexandra Ansanelli in Ondine Royal Ballet

And some special content for children is also available to help them keep busy while amazing them.

The Royal Ballet and The Royal Ballet School, a British Ballet company and its classical dance school, located in London, share freely a set of recent operas and ballets.

Peter and The Wolf (The Royal Ballet/The Royal Ballet School)

The show Peter and The Wolf for example in a fun and sublime way, with very colorful and detailed animal costumes, the presence of a childish main character with which your children could identify, allow the children to be more easily interested and linger there.

They find themselves watching a visual and musical opera ballet that captivates and charms young and older. And a bunch of otherstructures did the same, and a lot of shows are available, such as Romeo and Juliet played by La comédie Française, and other ones on Captation, France culture interviews... if you ever have free time… !

I hope you guys liked it, don't hesitate to go check out our other posts if you're interested in !


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