In Toulouse, the first “Noces de Figaro” by Hervé Niquet with the Orchester du Capitole

the essential
A great specialist in French music, Hervé Niquet conducts for the first time “The Marriage of Figaro” by Mozart and the Orchester du Capitole, of which he is a fervent admirer.

This is your first time with the Orchester du Capitole…

I’m happy like a kid in a candy store! It takes me back to my youth. I had a classical musicological education as a pianist. When I was a young pianist, with a classical musicological education, I was a fan of French music. The Orchester du Capitole records were among my favorites. I was amazed because Michel Plasson recorded major works, whose composers were sometimes unknown. He opened my eyes and ears. Finding myself at the lectern of the Capitole is a great joy.

Why does this orchestra touch you so much?

Not to offend the Parisians, we will say that it is one of the two best French orchestras. This training is fantastic. The musicians are demanding, honest and unparalleled professionalism. And then I have a link with Toulouse. I was director of the early music department for five years at the Conservatory during the time of Marc Bleuse, in the nineties.

We remember seeing you in March, humorously directing “Platée”, an opera directed by Shirley and Dino. You came with your orchestra, Concert Spirituel…

Which I founded almost 40 years ago! I took the name of a historic ensemble created in 1725, which gave more than a thousand concerts and disappeared from the musical landscape with the Revolution. We are very attached to the French musical heritage, we play on period instruments.

For “The Marriage of Figaro”, you changed the layout of the orchestra…

Usually most musicians have their backs to the stage. They don’t see the show. The conductor acts as a relay between the singing and the musicians. For the “Weddings”, I raised the pit and placed the whole family of wind instruments facing the stage, as in the 18th century. They dialogue directly with the singers, I don’t intervene. I believe this is a first on Capitol Hill. At first the musicians were a little reluctant, but they seem to appreciate this direct relationship with the singers.

You have already conducted works by Mozart but never “The Marriage of Figaro”…

I distrust Mozart. I find his operas a bit long. But when Christophe Ghristi (director of the Opéra national du Capitole, editor’s note) called me and said: “look at the cast”, I cracked up. It brought together ten very talented young soloists. Nine French and one Swiss. I like their collegial way of working. And then I get along very well with Marco Arturo Marelli, a great director of actors. It was he who staged this opera in 2008 at the Capitole. He arrived at the end of August to resume this show, with the same costumes, the same sets and new singers.

How would you describe the music in “The Marriage of Figaro”?

Mozart adds lightness, color, poetry, pep, to this work of Beaumarchais, political and subversive for the time. It is an extremely difficult opera to play and to sing, but one is nourished by the energy of Mozart. The scenography carries the voices admirably. It really is a beautiful sight.

A dazzling cast

Christophe Ghristi, artistic director of the Opéra national du Capitole, chose to resume this show in the 2008 scenography, with ten renowned young soloists: Michael Nagy (Comte Almaviva), Karine Deshayes (La comtesse), Anaïs Constans (Susanna) , Julien Véronèse (Figaro), Eléonore Pancrazi (Cherubino), Ingrid Perruche (Marcellina), Frédéric Caton (Bartolo), Emiliano Gonzalez Toro (Basilio), Caroline Jestaedt (Barbarina), Pierre-Emmanuel Roubet (Don Curzio). The National Capitol Choir is conducted by Gabriel Bourgoin.

“The Marriage of Figaro”, from January 20 to 31 at the Théâtre du Capitole, Toulouse. Prices from €10 to €113. Tel .05 61 63 13 13 (www.onct.toulouse.fr).