Théâtre des Champs-Elysées, Paris
June | 2023
"Replacing the much-anticipated Lorenzo Viotti, who has withdrawn from the project, another Lorenzo, Passerini, could have been content to 'do the job'. But the opposite is true. Not paralysed by the stakes of his Paris debut, the 32-year-old Lombard conductor takes the score of Puccini's opera by the scruff of the neck, with an ardour that is increased tenfold by tempi that we initially feared were too hasty, before admitting that he creates a real dramatic effervescence. If the performance seemed a little tame to us, it is in the pit that the composer's abundance of inventive orchestration bursts forth. The Orchestre National de France shines with a thousand lights, highlighting all the modern aspects of this writing, in phase with the Chœur Unikanti and the Maîtrise des Hauts-de-Seine, who are in no way frightened by the complexity of their task."
Christian Merlin, Le Figaro | 16.06.2023
"A fine cast and dynamic direction finely serve this story where insouciance and drama rub shoulders. [...] Adept at fast tempos, no doubt to avoid Puccini's melodic honey turning to syrup, but holding the ensemble together well, the young conductor Lorenzo Passerini obtains fine nuances and warm colours from the Orchestre national de France."
Philippe Venturini, LesEchos | 16.06.2023
"Magnificent! This bohemian opera is breathtaking in its beauty and gravity, and also in its desperate humour. It is deliberately theatrical, with the libretto and music responding to each other thanks to a staging that respects both, although modernity can also be found in a certain classicism, and to the meticulous musical direction. The latter may come as a surprise from the outset, with its harshness, the impetus it gives, a strange impression at times of unprecedented speed, but this is only the right expression of Puccini's opera in four tableaux, which proceeds by ellipses. A musical direction that scrupulously follows a score that is much more contemporary than it appears, no more romantic than verist, but in a search for brutal truth, to be as close as possible to the complexity of feelings and above all to an atmosphere, as a painter would be more attached to the rendering than to the subject itself. This is what conductor Lorenzo Passerini is aiming for, even if it means destabilising the audience and some critics. [...]
So it was a great production that on the opening night was fully supported by the enthusiastic audience. This is undoubtedly because Lorenzo Passerini's energy in defending this work, at the risk of upsetting the orchestration while respecting it, brings to it, underlined by Éric Ruf's nuanced staging, which accuses the theatricality and paradoxically extracts its depth behind the artifice and lies, an ineffable feeling bubbling with life, even in the drama."
Denis Sanglard, Un fauteuil pour l’orchestre | 18.06.2023
"The Orchestre National de France has not played Puccini's score for 18 years. Yet it is at its best under the resolute and enduring direction of Italian conductor Lorenzo Passerini. His sober reading, with its never expressionist narrative, never lacks breath. Attentive to the singers without sacrificing orchestral colour, he makes the National's orchestras sound brilliant and precise. Poetic strings, powerful brass, lyrical woodwinds, the ear is delighted. Have we forgotten other sections? The success is necessarily collegial and richly deserved."
Romaric Hubert, Première Loge | 17.06.2023
https://www.premiereloge- opera.com/article/compte- rendu/production/2023/06/17/la- boheme-puccini-theatre-champs- elysees-eric-ruf-pene-pati-lorenzo- passerini-eric-ruf-christian-lacroix- orchestre-national-de-france-selene- zanetti-alexandre-duhamel- francesco-salvadori-guilhem-worms/
"In the end, we only have eyes for the pit, for a Lorenzo Passerini who is just thirty years old, with the theatre firmly in his body, brimming with life and colour, taking risks but not allowing himself to be overwhelmed, in an ideal balance between the rigour of analysis and the generosity of effusion. In the end, it is he who directs this Bohème, at the head of a National at its best, and turns it into a masterpiece of opera."
Didier van Moere, ConcertoNet | 16.06.2023
"The emotion is to be found in Lorenzo Passerini's conducting of the excellent Orchestre National de France, Chœur Unikanti and Maîtrise des Haut-de-Seine, all of whom were warmly applauded by the audience. Concerned to bring out the astonishing modernity of the orchestration, the conductor never lapses into technicalism and dares to play the emotional card, fortunately avoiding the excess pathos that sometimes ruins the delicate balance of a work constantly oscillating between drama and insouciance."
Stéphane Lelièvre, bachtrack | 18.06.2023
"The great triumph of the evening was Lorenzo Passerini. The conductor of Lombardy origin (born in 1991), at the helm of a remarkable Orchestre national de France, is intensely aware of this imaginative, quivering score, whose subtly rhythmic architecture leads the audience to the dramatic outcome we know so well. This is the young maestro's highly acclaimed first appearance in Paris!"
François Lesueur, Concert Classic | 18.06.2023
"The impeccable acoustics of the Théâtre des Champs-Elysées combine with its reasonable dimensions to give full rein to the resources of an admirably full-bodied Orchestre National de France - at once precise, shimmering and muscular: a pit that rightly received a standing ovation when the curtain fell on the Première on 15 June. Lorenzo Passerini, the 31-year- old conductor from Lombardy, is a marvel."
Julien San Frax, Causeur | 17.06.2023
"The young Italian conductor Lorenzo Passerini knows Puccini's opera well, having recently conducted it at the Capitole de Toulouse. With a large musical team made up of the Orchestre National de France and the Unikanti Chorus, which he directs with a sure hand, the conductor imbues the opera with a welcome fluidity and ardour, avoiding the languor of lyrical drama. Without neglecting the subtleties of the multi-coloured score, which combines seemingly simple solo arias with more sophisticated ensembles."
Noël Tinazzi, webtheatre | 17.06.2023
In the pit, the young Italian conductor Lorenzo Passerini, who has recently made his debut in the great opera houses, has so much energy, so much sense of gaiety, pathos and lyricism, that it almost works against the staging, it's quite spectacular."
Lucile Commeaux, radiofrance | 19.06.2023
"First of all, in the pit, a young conductor - 32 years old - Lorenzo Passerini, whom I did not know until last night, gave one of the most beautiful conductions I have ever heard of this work, apart from on disc. I have already written of my admiration for the genius of Puccini's orchestra, with its modernity and sensuality that the Italian conductor brings out as rarely at the head of an Orchestre National de France unfamiliar with the opera pit, which shone tonight with all its splendour. At the interval, I heard some of the ONF musicians say how happy they were to be working with this conductor... a pleasure widely shared by the audience."
Jean Pierre Rousseau, Jeanpierrerousseaublog.com 21.06.2023
"The young Lombard conductor Lorenzo Passerini takes it on with infectious enthusiasm and a sharp dramatic sense. Founder of the Antonio Vivaldi Orchestra and trained as a trombonist, he galvanises both the Orchestre National de France and the Unikanti-Maîtrise des Hauts de Seine choir. His liveliness can be tempered, supporting energetic contrasts or taking a back seat to those accents of smiling, melancholy simplicity that are so characteristic of the musician. Each section of the orchestra is brought to the fore and the orchestral genius of the composer of Manon Lescaut is allowed to unfold to its full extent. So much so that rare reminiscences, usually blended into the mass, surprise the ear: Mussorgsky, among others, whose influence will ultimately have gone far beyond Ravel, orchestrator of Pictures at an Exhibition who willingly cited Puccini as a model of orchestration, Claude Debussy whose aversion to verism coexisted with a passionate admiration for Boris Godounov - "All of Boris is in Pélléas" he confided! Or Stravinsky, himself steeped in the inventions of the Khovantchina."
Bénédicte Palaux-Simonnet, Crescendo Magazine 18.06.2023
"From a musical point of view, we might have feared for a moment that the defection of Lorenzo Viotti would cast a shadow over the production. But Lorenzo Passerini took up the gauntlet with a certain panache, and offered a more convincing personal direction than the broadcast of the performance he conducted at the Capitole de Toulouse a few months ago would have led us to believe. Here, his gesture is adorned with a real sense of melodrama, and the intrinsic qualities of the Orchestre National de France allow him to dare to use clean, frank colours without excess, and to create intoxicating atmospheres conducive to the ardent lyricism that permeates the score. The dynamics are high but never thunderous, and the colours crackle as Rodolfo sets fire to his book. The ensembles are carried off with the precision of a goldsmith, and a roaring vivacity. Passerini knows how to weave a carpet of moiré colours around the voices of his singers, and offers a caressing pulse at the end of the reconciliation duet ("Ch'io da vero poeta rimavo con carezze!"). The passages most prone to excessive decibels are most often artfully controlled (the start of Act Two, with its brass and choir entrance), even if the Lombard conductor sometimes indulges in drowning out the singers (Marcello singing "sirena"). But the bubbling orchestra when Rodolfo discovers that Mimi has been listening to his confession to Marcello, and the frenzied lyricism at the end of the quartet that follows ("Vuoi che spettiam la primavera ancor? ...") take the emotion to new heights. The heady marcato rhythm at the start of the third act, the biting, tragic strokes of the strings when Musetta introduces Mimi in the final act, and the perfect rhythmic balance of the heroine's breathless agony all mark a performance of the highest calibre.
The Italian conductor can undoubtedly be associated with the success of the Unikanti choir and the Hauts-de-Seine choir conducted by Gaël Darchen. The children are perfect at the start of the second act, around Parpignol, and are joined by the adult male and female choirs, with an absolute consistency of timbre, and a fine presence on stage: a fine piece of work!"
Philippe Manoli, Toute la culture | 21.06.2023
"At the helm of the Orchestre National de France, Lorenzo Passerini brings out all the ardent, intoxicating beauty of the score and demonstrates that he is a true theatre conductor, attentive to evocative details, to lyrical outpourings and to dramatic tension, which he does not seek to repress but, on the contrary, allows to develop fully."
Christophe Candoni, sceneweb | 18.06.2023
"Maestro Lorenzo Passerini opted for a reading with soft tones, in line with the production, which was very elegant and in which the moments of greatest emotion were dosed, so that Giordano's score did not fall into melodrama from the start and every nuance could be appreciated. Backed by an outstanding Frankfurt Opera House Orchestra, which showed impeccable ductility, it achieved moments of true beauty, such as the famous intermezzo in the second act."
Javier del Olivo, Platea Magazin