Les Arts Florissants
Xavier de Maistre © Marco BorggreveOn Tour 23.03.17-26.03.17

  • William Christie,
  • Xavier de Maistre

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The already rich Parisian musical life gained fresh inspiration with the arrival of the young Marie Antoinette in 1770, not only because she introduced her former singing teacher Gluck from Vienna, which led to a revolution in the Parisian opera world. Music at the court also changed; whereas grand, imposing operas and divertissements were preferred under Louis XIV and Louis XV, under Marie Antoinette and her husband, Louis XVI, the emphasis shifted to the salon. An enthusiastic harpist herself, Marie Antoinette significantly advanced the development of the harp. Harp building flourished, and many of the Parisian instrument makers outdid each other, not only with increasingly elaborate decoration but also with technical developments.
The new technical possibilities were accompanied by the establishment of the harp as a concert instrument and a wave of compositions for it, not only by traveling harpists such as Johann Baptist Krumpholtz and Franz Petrini but also by such established composers as Johann Ladislav Dussek and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.
With his programme “The Instrument of a Queen – The Harp at Versailles” Xavier de Maistre devotes himself for the first time to this fascinating chapter of European musical history.


Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart: Serenade G-Dur für Streicher KV 525 ''Eine kleine Nachtmusik''
Johann Baptist Krumpholtz: Konzert für Harfe und Orchester Nr. 5 B-Dur op. 7
Johann David Hermann: Konzert Nr. 1 in F-Dur für Harfe und Orchester op. 9
Joseph Haydn: Symphonie Nr. 85 B-Dur Hob. I:85 ''La Reine''


Les Arts Florissants

An ensemble of singers and instrumentalists specialized in the performance of Baroque music on period instruments, Les Arts Florissants are renowned the world over. Founded in 1979 by the Franco-American harpsichordist and conductor William Christie, the...

An ensemble of singers and instrumentalists specialized in the performance of Baroque music on period instruments, Les Arts Florissants are renowned the world over. Founded in 1979 by the Franco-American harpsichordist and conductor William Christie, the Ensemble, named for a short opera by Marc-Antoine Charpentier, has played a pioneering role in the revival of a Baroque repertoire that had long been neglected (including the rediscovery of countless treasures in the collections of the Bibliothèque Nationale de France). Today that repertoire is widely performed and admired: not only French music from the reign of Louis XIV, but also more generally European music of the 17th and 18th centuries. The Ensemble is directed by William Christie who, since 2007, has regularly passed the conductor’s baton over to British tenor Paul Agnew.



Since the 1987 production of Lully’s Atys at the Opéra Comique in Paris, which was triumphantly revived in May 2011, it has been on the opera stage that Les Arts Florissants have enjoyed their greatest successes. Notable productions include works by Rameau (Les Indes Galantes, Hippolyte et Aricie, Les Boréades, Les Paladins, Platée), Lully and Charpentier (Médée, David et Jonathas, Les Arts Florissants, Armide), Handel (Orlando, Acis and Galatea, Semele, Alcina, Serse, Hercules, L’Allegro, il Penseroso ed il Moderato), Purcell (King Arthur, Dido and Aeneas, The Fairy Queen), Mozart (The Magic Flute, Die Entführung aus dem Serail), Monteverdi (his opera trilogy), but also by composers who are less frequently played, such as Landi (Il Sant’Alessio), Cesti (Il Tito), Campra (Les Fêtes vénitiennes) and Hérold (Zampa).


For their theater productions, Les Arts Florissants have called on the talents of some of the greatest stage directors, including Jean-Marie Villégier, Robert Carsen, Adrian Noble, Andrei Serban, Luc Bondy, Deborah Warner and Jérôme Deschamps and Macha Makeïeff, as well as on renowned choreographers such as Béatrice Massin, Ana Yepes, Jirí Kylián, Blanca Li, Trisha Brown, Robyn Orlin, José Montalvo, Françoise Denieau and Dominique Hervieu.


Les Arts Florissants enjoy an equally high profile in the concert hall, as illustrated by their many acclaimed concert or semi-staged performances of operas and oratorios (Rameau’s Zoroastre, Anacréon and Les Fêtes d’Hébé, Charpentier’s Actéon and La Descente d’Orphée aux Enfers, Campra’s Idoménée and Mozart’s Idomeneo, Montéclair’s Jephté, Rossi’s L’Orfeo and Handel’s Giulio Cesare with Cecilia Bartoli as well as his Messiah, Theodora, Susanna, Jephtha and Belshazzar), their secular and sacred chamber-music programs (petits motets by Lully and Charpentier, madrigals by Monteverdi and Gesualdo, court airs by Lambert, hymns by Purcell, among others) and their approach to large-scale works (particularly the grands motets by Rameau, Mondonville and Campra).


Each season Les Arts Florissants give around 100 concerts and opera performances in France—at the Philharmonie de Paris, where they are artists in residence, the Théâtre de Caen, the Opéra Comique, the Théâtre des Champs-Élysées, the Château de Versailles, as well as at numerous festivals—and are an active ambassador for French culture abroad, being regularly invited to New York, London, Edinburgh, Brussels, Vienna, Salzburg, Madrid, Barcelona, Moscow, and elsewhere.


The Ensemble has produced an impressive discography: nearly 100 recordings (CD and DVD) and its own collection in collaboration with harmonia mundi, under the baton of William Christie and Paul Agnew.


In recent years, Les Arts Florissants have launched several education programs for young musicians. The most emblematic is the Academy of Le Jardin des Voix: created in 2002, it is held every two years and has already brought a substantial number of new singers into the limelight. The Arts Flo Juniors program, launched in 2007, enables conservatory students to join the orchestra and chorus for the length of a production, from the first day of rehearsals up to the final performance. And then there is the partnership between William Christie, Les Arts Florissants and New York’s Juilliard School of Music, which since 2007 has allowed a fruitful artistic exchange between the U.S. and France.


Les Arts Florissants also organize numerous events aimed at building new audiences at the Philharmonie de Paris, in the Vendée, in France and all around the world. Linked to each year’s concert program, they are designed for both amateur musicians and non-musicians, adults as much as children.


In 2012, William Christie and Les Arts Florissants created the festival Dans les Jardins de William Christie, in partnership with the Conseil départemental de la Vendée. An annual event, the festival brings together artists from Les Arts Florissants, pupils from the Juilliard School and finalists from Le Jardin des Voix for concerts and promenades musicales in the gardens created by William Christie at Thiré, in the Vendée. In addition to the festival, Les Arts Florissants are working with the endowment fund Les Jardins de Musique de William Christie towards the creation of a permanent cultural venue in Thiré.


During the 2016–17 season, Les Arts Florissants, conducted by William Christie, perform two Bach concerts with the B Minor Mass at the BBC Proms and a program of cantatas at the Ambronay festival and the Paris Philharmonic among others; Voyage dans le temps, a Purcell-Rameau program with Les Arts Florissants’ chorus at the Luxemburg Philharmonic; the rerun of In an Italian Garden with the singers of the 7th edition of Le Jardin des Voix for an Asian tour in Tokyo, Seoul, Shanghai and Macau; Music for Marie-Antoinette with the harpist Xavier de Maistre (harmonia mundi CD released in October 2016); Handel’s Messiah on European tour (Baden-Baden, Barcelona, Budapest, London, Madrid…); Chants Joyeux, a program of Charpentier’s sacred music highlighting Les Arts Florissants’ chorus; In an English Garden with the 8th edition of Le Jardin des Voix.

In tandem, Paul Agnew will conduct Mantova—a selection from Monteverdi’s fourth, fifth and sixth books of madrigals –, Monteverdi and his poets, a program gathering works by Monteverdi and his masters, as well as a semi-staged version of Monteverdi’s Orfeo on European tour.

The season will be marked by the creation of a Festival de printemps in the churches of the Southern Vendée, whose direction will be assumed y Paul Agnew. It will end with the sixth edition of the festival Dans les Jardins de William Christie, which will take place on August 19– 26, 2016 in the Vendée.


The American Friends of Les Arts Florissants continue to provide invaluable support, and a new friends’ group, the European Friends of Les Arts Florissants, was launched in 2016. (www.arts-florissants.com)


Les Arts Florissants receives financial support from the Ministry of Culture and Communication. The Ensemble has been in residence at the Philharmonie de Paris since 2015. The Selz Foundation, American Friends of Les Arts Florissants and Crédit Agricole Corporate & Investment Bank are Principal Sponsors.


SEASON 2016/2017

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© Dennis Rouvre

William Christie

William Christie, harpsichordist, conductor, musicologist, and teacher, is the inspiration behind one of the most exciting musical adventures of the last 30 years. A pioneer in the rediscovery of Baroque music, he has introduced the repertoire of 17th- and...

William Christie, harpsichordist, conductor, musicologist, and teacher, is the inspiration behind one of the most exciting musical adventures of the last 30 years. A pioneer in the rediscovery of Baroque music, he has introduced the repertoire of 17th- and 18th-century France to a very wide audience across the globe. Born in Buffalo, and educated at Harvard and Yale, William Christie has lived in France since 1971. The turning point in his career came in 1979, when he founded Les Arts Florissants.



As Director of this vocal and instrumental ensemble, William Christie soon made his mark as both a musician and man of the theater, in the concert hall and the opera house, with new interpretations of largely neglected or forgotten works. Major public recognition came in 1987 with the production of Lully’s Atys at the Opéra Comique in Paris, which then went on to tour internationally to huge success.


From Charpentier to Rameau, through Couperin, Mondonville, Campra, or Montéclair, William Christie is the uncontested master of tragédie-lyrique as well as opéra-ballet, and is just as comfortable with the French motet as with music of the court. But his affection for French music does not preclude him from exploring other European repertoires and, as well as his many acclaimed performances of Italian works (Monteverdi, Rossi, Scarlatti, Landi), he broaches Purcell and Handel with as much success as Mozart or Haydn.


William Christie’s particularly busy operatic career has been marked by numerous collaborations with renowned theater and opera directors (including Jean-Marie Villégier, Robert Carsen, Alfredo Arias, Jorge Lavelli, Graham Vick, Adrian Noble, Andrei Serban, Luc Bondy and Deborah Warner), which are always major events in the musical calendar. His most recent were both new productions at Paris’s Opéra Comique: Rameau’s Platée, in 2014, and Campra’s Les Fêtes vénitiennes in 2015.


As a guest conductor, William Christie often appears at opera festivals such as Glyndebourne (notably Hippolyte et Aricie in the summer of 2013) or at opera houses such as the Metropolitan Opera of New York, the Zurich Opernhaus, or the Opéra National de Lyon. Between 2002 and 2007, he regularly appeared as a guest conductor with the Berlin Philharmonic.


His extensive discography (more than 100 recordings, many of which have won awards and distinctions in France and abroad) with Harmonia Mundi, Warner Classics/Erato and Virgin Classics reflects the richness of his artistic ventures. His most recent recordings: Belshazzar, Le Jardin de Monsieur Rameau—featuring the finalists in Le Jardin des Voix 2013—, Music for Queen Caroline, a program of religious works by Handel and Bien que l’amour—an anthology of serious airs and drinking songs— released in the Arts Florissants new collection in collaboration with harmonia mundi that re-release recordings by Les Arts Florissants no longer available.


In a career of over 40 years, William Christie has brought to the limelight several generations of singers and instrumentalists. Indeed, most of the conductors of today’s French Baroque ensembles began their careers with Les Arts Florissants. A professor at the Paris Conservatoire from 1982 to 1995, he was in charge of the early-music class, and is now often invited to give master classes or lead academies such as those at Aix-en-Provence and Ambronay. Since 2007 he has been artist in residence at the Juilliard School of Music in New York, where he gives master classes twice a year accompanied by the musicians of Les Arts Florissants.


Wishing to develop further his work as a teacher, in 2002 William Christie created, with Les Arts Florissants, a biennial academy for young singers, Le Jardin des Voix, whose finalists take part in an international tour with Les Arts Florissants that acts as a launchpad for their careers. Among the talents discovered by William Christie through Le Jardin des Voix are Sonya Yoncheva, Christophe Dumaux, Emmanuelle de Negri, Marc Mauillon and Amel Brahim-Djelloul.


A true garden enthusiast, William Christie launched Dans les Jardins de William Christie in 2012, a music festival that takes place every August in his gardens in the Vendée. It brings together Les Arts Florissants, William Christie’s pupils from the Juilliard School and the finalists in Le Jardin des Voix for concerts and promenades musicales in the gardens he created at Thiré, which have been labeled a “Jardin Remarquable” and listed on the French Supplementary Inventory of Historic Monuments.


William Christie acquired French nationality in 1995. He is a Grand Officier in the Ordre de la Légion d’Honneur, the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres and the Ordre National du Mérite. He is Docteur Honoris Causa of the State University of New York in Buffalo, of the Juilliard School of Music in New York and of the University of Leiden in the Netherlands. In November 2008, William Christie was elected to France’s Académie des Beaux-Arts, and gave his official inaugural speech under the dome of the Institut de France in January 2010. He is also an honorary member of the Royal Academy of Music in London.


SEASON 2016/2017


© Marco Borggreve

Xavier de Maistre, Harp

Xavier de Maistre belongs to an elite category of soloists who are redefining what is possible with their instrument. Aside from commissions from composers such as Kaija Saariaho, he performs works like Smetana’s “Ma Vlast" with breathtaking precision,...

Xavier de Maistre belongs to an elite category of soloists who are redefining what is possible with their instrument. Aside from commissions from composers such as Kaija Saariaho, he performs works like Smetana’s “Ma Vlast" with breathtaking precision, presenting masterful arrangements of works that are usually played by an entire orchestra. The interpretation of these works, that few harpists before him have even considered playing, has contributed to his reputation as one of the most creative and extraordinary musicians of his generation.

Xavier de Maistre has appeared with major orchestras under the direction of such eminent con-ductors as Bertrand de Billy, Lionel Bringuier, Daniele Gatti, Kristjan Järvi, Philippe Jordan, Riccardo Muti, Andrés Orozco-Estrada and André Previn. He performs at many leading international festivals, including Schleswig-Holstein Music Festival, Salzburg Festival, Budapest Spring Festival and Mostly Mozart in New York. He collaborates with such chamber music partners as Diana Damrau, Magali Mosnier, Daniel Müller-Schott, Baiba Skride and Arabella Steinbacher.


The 2016/17 season begins for de Maistre with the premiere of a harp concerto written for him by Kaija Saariaho at Suntory Hall in Tokyo. Another highlight is the programme inspired by Marie Antoinette with Les Arts Florissants under William Christie, which will tour to European capitals. Other engagements include with the Zurich Tonhalle Orchestra, London Philharmonic Orchestra, Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France, Finnish Radio Symphony and the Salzburg Mozarteum Orchestra. Further afield he travels to Asia, South and North America, working with Yomiuri Nippon Symphony Orchestra, Hong Kong Philharmonic, Orquestra Sinfonica do Estado de São Paulo and Montreal Symphony Orchestra. He appears as a solo recital artist at such centres as KKL Luzern and the Festspielhaus Baden-Baden.

De Maistre has an exclusive recording contract with Sony Music. Releases have included music by Haydn, Rodrigo, Ginastera and Debussy – the latter for which he was awarded the Echo Klassik Award 2009 as “Instrumentalist of the Year”. In 2012 “Notte Veneziana” was released and entered the top ten in the classical music charts. Most recent releases include a DVD with Diana Damrau and a CD recording of Mozart piano concertos arranged for harp. In spring 2015, “Moldau – The Romantic Album” was released, a recital CD featuring Slavonic repertoire, which received high critical acclaim.

Xavier de Maistre was born in Toulon and began studying harp aged nine. He studied in Paris and in 1998 he was awarded first prize at the International Harp Competition in Bloomington, Indiana, immediately becoming the first French musician to join the ranks of the prestigious Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra. Since 2001 Xavier de Maistre has taught at the Hamburg Academy of Music. He also gives regular masterclasses at New York’s Juilliard School of Music, Tokyo’s Toho University and London’s Trinity College of Music.  Xavier de Maistre plays a Lyon & Healy harp. 

SEASON 2016/2017

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