»Saint François d’Assise« in der Elbphilharmonie, Juni 2024

Concert documentary: »Saint François d’Assise«

Olivier Messiaen’s monumental opera »Saint François d’Assise« in the Grand Hall – a look back at one of the most spectacular projects in Elbphilharmonie history.

»It might have been the greatest spectacle since the Elbphilharmonie opened.«

Hamburger Abendblatt

 

»What, for heaven’s sake, can lie ahead after this sensational premiere which was celebrated for several minutes«, wonders the »Hamburger Abendblatt« following the performance of Olivier Messiaen’s »Saint François d’Assise« at the Elbphilharmonie, which attracted worldwide attention in spring 2024 as part of the Hamburg International Music Festival. Four-and-a-half hours of music, around 300 performers, a spectacular stage setting, lighting and video effects and a flying angel in the middle of the Grand Hall: general music director Kent Nagano and opera director Georges Delnon went all out with their staged presentation of Messiaen’s mammoth opera.

For this, they firstly built over the stage - in any case filled to the brim by the huge orchestra - with an elaborate footbridge construction on which Jacques Imbrailo shone as Saint François. Anna Prohaska guaranteed goose bumps as the floating angel. At the same time, several choirs surrounded the audience: sometimes, with a great force of sound; at others, enigmatically and gently. »This performance was in very good hands with Kent Nagano«, rejoiced the »neue musikzeitung«. The »FAZ« even chose the production as »perhaps the greatest achievement of Nagano’s time in Hamburg«. Kent Nagano, who had been involved in the famous Parisian premiere of the opera in 1983, is now one of the most important Messiaen ambassadors of all.

Reflecting the present day

In their interpretation of the opera, Kent Nagano and Georges Delnon were primarily concerned with showing the historic Francis as reflected today. »Who is Francis, where do we find his teachings in today’s society?« was an opening question for director Delnon. In films on a large 360°-LED ring above the stage area, he makes people appear, who, in their different roles, represent Francis in our present day.

Filming for this took place, amongst others, on board the sea rescue ship Sea-Watch 5 on Sicily, with climate scientist Mojib Latif, in the Basilica of Assisi, but also locally in Hamburg in a hospice and in the GoBanyo ‘Duschbus’ (shower bus for people living on the streets). The fact that these people were actually also present in the performances at the Elbphilharmonie and surrendered themselves to the great sound apotheosis of the final scene alongside Saint Francis was one of the most moving moments of this extraordinary musical theatre evening.

A short video documentary takes another glance back at this exceptional large-scale project – with interviews, backstage impressions and excerpts from the performances.

»Saint François d’Assise« in der Elbphilharmonie, Juni 2024 »Saint François d’Assise« in der Elbphilharmonie, Juni 2024 © Sophie Wolter
»Saint François d’Assise« in der Elbphilharmonie, Juni 2024 »Saint François d’Assise« in der Elbphilharmonie, Juni 2024 © Sophie Wolter
»Saint François d’Assise« in der Elbphilharmonie, Juni 2024 »Saint François d’Assise« in der Elbphilharmonie, Juni 2024 © Sophie Wolter
»Saint François d’Assise« in der Elbphilharmonie, Juni 2024 »Saint François d’Assise« in der Elbphilharmonie, Juni 2024 © Sophie Wolter
»Saint François d’Assise« in der Elbphilharmonie, Juni 2024 »Saint François d’Assise« in der Elbphilharmonie, Juni 2024 © Sophie Wolter
»Saint François d’Assise« in der Elbphilharmonie, Juni 2024 »Saint François d’Assise« in der Elbphilharmonie, Juni 2024 © Sophie Wolter
»Saint François d’Assise« in der Elbphilharmonie, Juni 2024 »Saint François d’Assise« in der Elbphilharmonie, Juni 2024 © Sophie Wolter
»Saint François d’Assise« in der Elbphilharmonie, Juni 2024 »Saint François d’Assise« in der Elbphilharmonie, Juni 2024 © Sophie Wolter

Performers

Philharmonisches Staatsorchester Hamburg

Audi Jugendchorakademie

LauschWerk

Jacques Imbrailo Bariton

Anna Prohaska L’Ange

Anthony Gregory Tenor

Kartal Karagedik Frère Léon

Dovlet Nurgeldiyev Frère Massée

Andrew Dickinson Frère Élie

David Minseok Kang Bass

Florian Eggers Bass

Niklas Mallmann Bass

conductor Kent Nagano

staging Georges Delnon

Thomas Jürgens scenography

Julia Mottl costumes

Janina Zell, Ralf Waldschmidt dramaturgy

Marcus Richardt film

Stefan Bolliger lights

Martin Steidler choir director

Eine Koproduktion von Staatsoper Hamburg, Philharmonischem Staatsorchester Hamburg und HamburgMusik

Mediatheque : More stories

Elbphilharmonie Talk mit dem Kronos Quartet

Eine Welt, eine Musik – David Harrington und Paul Wiancko über das legendäre Streichquartett und ihr Best-of-Programm.

Play Video

: Elbphilharmonie Sessions: Théotime Langlois de Swarte & Thomas Dunford

Two audience favourites from France perform an early music hit in the foyer of the Recital Hall.

Georges Bizet: Carmen
Play Video

Video on demand from 21 Apr 2024 : Georges Bizet: Carmen

Great emotions and famous catchy tunes: Georges Bizet’s opera hit »Carmen« in the Grand Hall – in its original version from 1874.