July 14, 2020: Paris Sky Lavishly Sparkles After National Day Concert July 15 2020
Bastille Day in Covid-19 stricken France was celebrated with solemnity in a public free Champs-de-Mars, home to the Eiffel Tower.
Usually reputed for its grand-style panache, French authorities imposed scaled down grandeur through social distancing and strict sanitary measures in an atmosphere of social unrest. Televised evening concert gathered leading and lesser known performers, including radiant Sonya Yoncheva, lyric Stéphane Berheim, and veterans Roberto Alagna and Ludovic Tézier in operatic and popular repertories.
The roster of artists also included less remarkable Egyptian soprano Fatma Saïd, pianist Khatia Buniatishvili, trumpet soloist Lucienne Renaudin Vary, violinist Lisa Batiashvili, cellist Sol Gabetta and surprise guest Angélique Kidjo, the Beninese singer, songwriter, actress, and activist who propelled the French national anthem with an outburst of passion, eventually joined by all the soloists, the Maîtrise de Radio France, Choeur de Radio France and the Orchestre National de France.
Whereas symphonic works were aptly conducted, the lyric repertoire – except for the choral works – certainly did not shine under the baton of Eun Sun Kim … But what did sparkle were the astounding ½ hour fireworks which engulfed the Paris skyline at the close of the concert in a wide array of shapes, colors, and soundtracks, leaving thousands speechless and in awe, as if 2020 Bastille Day would have told the venerable Eiffel Tower to … “Glitter and be gay” (Cunégonde’s aria in Leonard Bernstein’s Candide). Despite the circumstances, music and opera will surely continue to exert their prime mesmerizing effect on the public for many years to come. (Claude-Pascal Perna)