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Lyon National Opera Orchestra Orchestra

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The Lyon National Opera Orchestra has roots reaching back to 1831, the year the Lyon Opera staged its first performance. But the orchestra was entirely recast in 1983 by then-new permanent conductor, John Eliot Gardiner. The style, sound, and musical character of the ensemble changed markedly, becoming a new orchestra altogether. The newly formed ensemble was made up of both talented conservatory graduates and experienced orchestral players to serve as section principals. Gardiner made clear that he chose his musicians not only on the basis of their interpretive and technical skills, but for their talent in both chamber music performance and willingness to play infrequently encountered works. Since 1983 the orchestra has made 100 or so recordings, and while the bulk of them are of operatic fare, a good many are concert staples, such as Stravinsky's The Rite of Spring, Prokofiev's Peter and the Wolf, Debussy's La boîte à joujoux, and many others. And the operatic repertory played by the orchestra is often of the most challenging variety, from Berlioz's Béatrice et Bénédict to Busoni's Doktor Faust. More importantly, whether in operatic or orchestral performance, critics have lavished high praise on the ensemble. The orchestra's recordings are available from Decca, EMI, Erato, Philips, Virgin Classics, Warner Classics, and other major labels.

The Lyon National Opera Orchestra was considered one of the more important French opera orchestras from its debut in 1831. The ensemble accompanied the opera company in many historic performances, such as the French premiere of Wagner's Die Meistersinger (1896) and Mussorgsky's Boris Godunov (1913).

Throughout the first half of the 20th century it gained much respect for its incisive playing. Yet, while there were many important changes introduced in 1969 by the opera company's general director, Louis Erlo, it was Gardiner's wholesale recasting of the orchestra in 1983 that yielded the most positive results.

From about the mid-'80s the orchestra was regularly invited to play at Europe's most prestigious music festivals (Strasbourg, Flanders, Aix-en-Provence, etc.). Gardiner served as music director until 1988, Kent Nagano succeeding him. Nagano's 1989 CD of Prokofiev's The Love for Three Oranges, on Virgin Classics, was one of its many highly praised recordings. Louis Langrée (1998-2000) and Ivan Fischer (2000-2003) served short stints as permanent conductor. After a five-year period without a permanent conductor, Kazushi Ono took the helm in 2008.

© Robert Cummings, Rovi
Portions of Content Provided by All Music Guide.
© 2008 All Media Guide, LLC. All Music Guide is a registered trademark of All Media Guide, LLC.
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