Founded by Claire Gibault in 2011, the Paris Mozart Orchestra is a flexible ensemble varying in size and instrumentation according to the demands of each project.
The PMO regularly performs at prestigious French concert halls and cultural centres such as the Théâtre des Champs-Elysées, Théâtre du Châtelet, La Seine Musicale and the Philharmonie in Paris, Théâtre des Célestins in Lyon, Opéra de Marseille, Théâtre Le Liberté in Toulon, Palais des Congrès and Théâtre des Quinconces in Le Mans, or Arsenal in Metz.
Among its recent projects, the PMO made its debut at the Stresa Festival in Italy with Natalie Dessay, gave a series of Mozart concerts at the Folle Journée Festival in Nantes, and performed a programme of French music at the Hong Kong French May Festival with Eric Génovèse from the Comédie- Française. In 2019-2020, the PMO will perform Mozart’s Great Mass in c minor at Le Mans Cathedral, its programme “Mozart the European” in various Paris region theatres, and will be the resident orchestra at the Philharmonie de Paris in March 2020 for the 1st La Maestra International Competition for Women Conductors.
Showcasing the talents of the outstanding young soloists of the Paris Mozart Orchestra – among them, as concert master and string session principals, the four members of the internationally acclaimed prize-winning Psophos Quartet – lies at the heart of the PMO project. The ensemble collaborates frequently with a number of world-class soloists such as sopranos Natalie Dessay, Julie Fuchs and Myrto Papatanasiu, mezzo Karine Deshayes and pianists Anne Queffélec and Jean-Claude Pennetier. It is also committed to showcasing outstanding young and upcoming soloists such as pianists Adam Laloum and Marie-Ange Nguci, trumpet player Lucienne Renaudin-Vary or harp player Anaïs Gaudemard.
A powerful advocate of contemporary music, artistic director Claire Gibault commissions each season a new multimedia “melologue” from a distinguished composer – to date Fabio Vacchi, Sylvia Colasanti, Graciane Finzi, Edith Canat de Chizy, and Philippe Hersant – creating an original and highly evocative repertory designed as much to enthrall today’s music lovers and concert goers as to inspire and challenge the young participants in the PMO’s award-winning educational arts and culture project Orchestre Au Bahut, a laureate of La France S’Engage.
The PMO’s first recording featured the melologue Soudain dans la Forêt Profonde, a setting by Fabio Vacchi of words by Amos Oz; their 2nd CD “Pictures of America” with Natalie Dessay was released by Sony in December 2016. Inspired by the paintings of the American realist Edward Hopper, it includes works by Graciane Finzi and Samuel Barber alongside a selection of American jazz classics. In 2018, the PMO collaborated with graphic novelist Sandrine Revel, winner of the prestigious Prix Artemisia for her graphic novel Glenn Gould, a life off tempo in 2016. Inspired in many different ways by Claire Gibault and the PMO, her acclaimed album Pygmalion was published in France in May 2018, featuring a recording of Georg Benda’s Pygmalion performed by the PMO.
Dedicated to winning new audiences and sharing with all a passion for music and the arts, the PMO breaks down barriers through accessible, innovative and adventurous programming coupled with imaginative and often participative multimedia presentation. This is the case with programmes such as “Pictures of America”, “Pygmalion”, “Orfeo” or “L’Invitation au Voyage”, which all feature strikingly evocative visual elements.
The PMO also fulfils a unique social and educational role alongside its acclaimed performances of classical, early romantic and contemporary music. To be a member of the orchestra is not only to participate in an exciting musical adventure; it is also a way to share in and champion the strongest of humanitarian values, reaching out to the very young, the underprivileged and the alienated. Every year, approximately 50% of the PMO’s activities are devoted to educational, social or humanitarian projects.
Through Orchestre Au Bahut, a project devised and developed in close consultation with the Education Authorities of the Paris region, the PMO works each year with 16 schools, collèges and lycées in and around the Ile-de-France region to create an ambitious multi-disciplinary arts and culture programme offering students a unique interactive experience to touch, inspire and enrich their lives.
The PMO is also a regular visitor to prisons, hospitals and old people’s homes and develops partnerships with many institutions and organizations committed to educational, social and humanitarian ideas. Since 2018, it has organised a series of regular musical encounters with young isolated refugees in Paris.
The PMO is proud to count on the continuing support of its principal sponsor the Fondation Daniel et Nina Carasso, the invaluable help of the Aéroports de Paris, Ardian, Crédit Agricole Ile-de-France and SFR Foundations, and of Vivendi Create Joy, La France S’Engage, Musique Nouvelle en Liberté, SACEM, the French Ministry of Culture and the Greater Paris Region.
Musical and artistic Director Claire Gibault
Claire Gibault began her career at the Opéra National de Lyon before becoming the first woman to conduct the Filarmonica della Scala and the musicians of the Berlin Philharmonic. She was music director of Musica per Roma from 2000 to 2002, and alongside her own flourishing career, she spent a number of years as assistant to Claudio Abbado, collaborating with him at Milan’s La Scala, Vienna’s Staatsoper and London’s Royal Opera House Covent Garden. In 2004 she helped Claudio Abbado found the Orchestra Mozart di Bologna and continued her association with him until 2007.
Over the years Claire Gibault has conducted prestigious institutions such as London’s Royal Opera House, the Edinburgh International Festival, Glyndebourne Festival, Washington Opera, Paris’ Théâtre du Châtelet, Salle Pleyel, Opéra Comique and Philharmonie de Paris, the Opéra de Marseille, and the Théâtre des Célestins in Lyon. She has been invited to conduct orchestras such as the Halle Orchestra, Royal Scottish National Orchestra, Orchestra Sinfonica Nazionale de la RAI, Orchestre Philharmonique de Liège, Orchestre National de Bordeaux, Orchestre Philharmonique de Nice, Orchestre National des Pays de la Loire, Orchestre de l’Opéra de Marseille, Våsterås Sinfonietta and Osaka Symphony Orchestra.
Music director of a number of institutions (Atelier Lyrique and Children’s Choir of the Opéra National de Lyon, Orchestre de chambre de Chambéry, Musica per Roma), she has conducted many opera productions including Rossini’s Il Barbiere di Siviglia and La Cenerentola, Mozart’s La Finta Giardiniera, Cosi fan tutte and Die Entführung aus dem Serail, Berlioz’ Roméo et Juliette, Offenbach’s Les Brigands, Ravel’s L’Heure Espagnole and L’Enfant et les Sortilèges, Haydn’s Il Mondo della luna, Gluck’s Iphigénie en Tauride, Britten’s The Rape of Lucretia, Henze’s Pollicino, Humperdinck’s Hänsel und Gretel and Bernstein’s West Side Story. A passionate advocate of contemporary music, she regularly collaborates with leading composers such as Graciane Finzi, Wolfgang Rihm, Silvia Colasanti, Fabio Vacchi and Edith Canat de Chizy.
In 2011, inspired by her experience with Claudio Abbado, Claire Gibault formed the Paris Mozart Orchestra, giving some thirty performances with her musicians each season. In 2014 she was invited to conduct the world premiere of Jean-Claude Petit’s opera Colomba at the Opéra de Marseille. That same year she was invited by Milan’s Orchestra Verdi to conduct Mahler’s Symphony no 10 as well as the world premiere of Fabio Vacchi’s Veronica Franco at Milan’s Auditorium Fondazione Cariplo. In 2015 she returned to Milan to conduct the Orchestra Verdi in the world premiere of Fabio Vacchi’s Sull’acqua during Milan’s Universal Exhibition. Engagements for 2016 included a series of Mozart concerts with the Orchestra della Toscana, Massenet’s Don Quichotte with the National Opera in Osaka, as well as tours in France and Europe with her own Paris Mozart Orchestra. In December 2016 Sony Music released “Pictures of America”, a CD celebrating the collaboration between star soprano Natalie Dessay, Claire Gibault and the Paris Mozart Orchestra.
Among her recent projects Claire Gibault has conducted the Paris Mozart Orchestra in works by Mozart, Beethoven, Mendelssohn, Bartok, Mahler, Britten, Philippe Hersant and Graciane Finzi on tour in France and Europe. In January 2018 she conducted the Orquesta Filarmónica de la UNAM (Mexico) in works by Chopin and Berlioz, and returned to Mexico City in September 2018 as jury member for OFUNAM’s international conducting competition. In March 2020, Claire Gibault will conduct a new production of Fabio Vacchi’s opera Eternapoli at Bologna’s Teatro Comunale.
Over recent years Claire Gibault has become in great demand as a tutor for conducting masterclasses. She recently appeared with the Royal Opera House Covent Garden’s National Opera Studio and Jette Parker Young Artists Programme and has been running her own conducting masterclass series in Paris for 4 years. She is also co-director of La Maestra International Competition for Women Conductors which 1st edition will take place in March 2020 at the Philharmonie de Paris.
In 2010 Claire Gibault’s autobiography Musique à mains nues (“Music barehanded”) was published by Editions L’Iconoclaste. She was made an Officer of the Legion of Honour by the French governement in 2016. In September 2017 the French Minister of Culture awarded her the title of Commander of the Arts and Letters.
What is a Mélologue
Since Claire Gibault founded the Paris Mozart Orchestra in 2011, one remarkable but too-rarely heard musical genre has been the chosen mainstay of the PMO’s programming: the mélologue, a dramatic narration alternating with illustrative, emotionally-charged instrumental music.
First heard 250 years ago, the mélologue has proved, in the hands of today’s composers, to be fresher, more relevant and more accessible than ever. Contemporary mélologues often include a visual element such as film, painting or drawing, echoing the painted back-drops that embellished many historic performances. Berlioz was the first musician to use the world mélologue, borrowing from Irish poet Thomas Moore, to characterise the 1832 version of his Lélio – rejecting out of hand “mélodrame” as a word tainted by negative connotations. The word mélodrame carries those negative associations to this day.
In reviving and promoting the genre the Paris Mozart Orchestra has chosen to follow Berlioz, adopting the less provocative and more intriguing mélologue derived from the Greek melos and logos.