A tribute to legendary stage director Jean-Marie Villégier

January 24 2024

Creator of L'Illustre Théâtre, philosopher and great specialist in French pre-classical theater, Jean-Marie Villégier was also one of the builders of Les Arts Florissants. He has just passed away...

Médée, Atys, Le Malade imaginaire, La Fée Urgèle, Hippolyte et Aricie... Indissociable from his name, these works still resonate strongly in our memories today. And if each of these lyrical productions by Les Arts Florissants has enjoyed considerable success, and has given rise to the craze for Baroque music, it is largely to him that we owe it.

A lover of Molière and Corneille, Jean-Marie Villégier has given the French opera scene the opportunity to reflect deeply on the importance of diction and declamation, the keystones of William Christie's work. He gave the singers the keys to a distanced interpretation, in which costumes and lighting also helped to engage everyone, including the audience, in the fine analysis of dramatic situations. "The flirtation between tragedy in music and dramatic tragedy", as Jean-Marie liked to say, introduced a whole generation of spectators to the political opera of Louis XIV's court, and stimulated a formidable imagination that is still alive today. "Staging a play is like inventing a board game. You create the cards, define the rules of the game. Then you play the games with people. Each revival consists of playing the same game but in a different version.

Today, we bid farewell to a faithful companion of William Christie and Les Arts Florissants. We will miss him, but we will continue to hold the cards and keep alive the legacy of his marvellous creations!


Watch an excerpt from Jean-Marie Villégier's now-legendary staging of Atys :