Major Achievements

Company's US tours

Rudolf Nureyev was appointed director of the Paris Opera Ballet in 1983 by the French Minister of Culture and immediately started developing the international outreach of the company: a year later the American Friends of the Paris Opera & Ballet was born, and in 1986 the company was touring at the Met (NY) and the Kennedy Center (Washington DC), appearing in the United Stated for the first time in nearly 40 years. Since then, the company has had seven more engagements including four on the east coast (1987, 1993, 1996, 2012) and two on the West coast (1988 and 2001).

In 1989, the exceptional and disruptive Paris Opera production of “Atys” by Lully at the Brooklyn Academy of Music truly helped launch the interest for Opera Baroque in the United States.

For the last tour during the summer 2012 teams in Paris and in the US collaborated nearly two years to bring 160 dancers and staff to Washington, DC, Chicago and New York, including 16 of Paris Opera Ballet’s celebrated étoiles. The ambitious repertory included three very different programs: An evening dedicated to French Masters of the 20th Century featuring Serge Lifar with “Suite en Blanc”, Maurice Béjart with “Boléro and Roland Petit with L’Arlésienne”; a production of “Giselle” in its original version by Jean Coralli and Jules Perrot, restaged by Patrice Bart and Eugene Polyakov; and Pina Bausch’s “Orpheus and Eurydice. The company was excited to reconnect with its American audience and delivered thrilling performances to cheering crowds.

American companies visiting the Opera National de Paris

Core to AFPOB’s mission is the fostering of artistic cooperation between the Paris Opera Ballet and the creative community in the United States. From its inception, the organization has supported the engagement of many great American companies at the Paris Opera, including the San Francisco Ballet (1994 and 2001), the Houston Opera (in 1996), Paul Taylor Dance Company (1997 and 2000), Merce Cunningham (1998), American Ballet Theater (1999 and 2016), Trisha Brown Dance Company (2006), New York City Ballet (2006, first engagement in over 40 years) and Alvin Ailey (2009).  Most recently, AFPOB supported The American Ballet Theater’s tour to Paris, where 85 dancers performed Alex Ratmansky’s rendition of “Sleeping Beauty” for The Paris Ballet’s 2016/2017 Season Opening.

Productions

Thanks to major gifts from organizations such as the Florence Gould Foundation, the Annenberg Foundation, the Peter J. Sharp Foundation or the Jerome Robbins Foundation, the American Friends of the Paris Opera & Ballet have been able to support or underwrite several productions yearly (new productions and revivals) at the Paris Opera & Ballet featuring the work of American artists from Jerome Robbins, Trisha Brown, Merce Cunningham and William Forsythe to William Christie, Peter Sellars, Laurie Anderson, Karen Kilimnik, Robert Wilson or Bill Viola.

Guest appearances

Equally important is the support to individual artists and the American Friends have helped performers from very different background to take stage on both sides of the Atlantic: Singers (Susan Graham, Renee Flemming); conductor (James Conlon); and dancers (appearance from Paris Opera Ballet dancers in productions from NYCB, ABT, Twyla Tharp, or Trisha Brown Dance Company; and participation to expert panels and juries: Youth America Grand Prix, New York International Competition).

Opera Ballet School tour

Born 300 years ago, the Paris Opera Ballet School has become one of the most preeminent in the world. Its former pupils have won a record of 18 Benois de la Danse awards since 1992 and are touring on regular basis. AFPOB has facilitated their visit to the United States at several occasions, including for their very first appearance in 1988 at the Juilliard School, then in 1992, in 2002, in 2008 in New York and Washington DC.

Young Artist Program

The American Friends of the Paris Opera & Ballet strongly believes in exposing young talent to diverse technics and repertoires that may expand their knowledge of the field and assist in their development as accomplished artists with successful careers. For this purpose AFPOB opened a Young Artist Fund, uniquely dedicated to cross-cultural opportunities and artistic exchanges, such as study abroad programs and international competitions. In 2011, AFPOB supported singer auditions at Yale University and The Julliard School, which were held in partnership with The Paris Opera Ballet School and the Ateliers Lyriques (Paris Opera’s young professional singers training program). Then, in 2013, AFPOB inaugurated its scholarship program, which supported students from SAB, Juilliard, Fabrice Herrault Studio and the Kirov Academy of Ballet in Washington to study abroad and participate in the first ever summer intensive at the Paris Opera Ballet School. In 2014, AFPOB extended its scholarship program to students in schools across the country. As of 2016, AFPOB has further expanded its scholarship program to provide support for French students to train abroad with the San Fransisco Ballet School. 

Educational program

The Paris Opera has a strong focus on educational programs and, since 1991, has developed a partnership with the city of Paris to reach over 35 classes in various underserved areas. The program called “Dix Mois d’Ecole et d’Opera” (10 months of school and Opera) allows for students aged 6 to 18 to observe and learn a variety of stage and design crafts, meet artists, attend performances, or even participate in a production. AFPOB is especially attached to a subset of the program called “La Classe des Petits Violons”, initiated by trustee Flavia Gale and her husband Barden. Thanks to them, a group of students has been offered daily classes of violin, weekly rehearsal at the Palais Garnier, and a final performance on its stage yearly over the past 6 years.

Films and DVDs

Filming and recording have long been important tools for the Paris Opera & Ballet to grant access to their treasures to a greater public than the one sitting in the theaters. AFPOB underwrote films, recordings of production and organized screenings of special pieces from its first year in activity. Among those: a special DVD “Hommage a Jerome Robbins” in 2011, many screenings, and several documentaries (Etoile and artistic director Patrick Dupond - 2004, Director of the Paris Opera Ballet School Claude Bessy -2002, Etoile Serge Peretti – 1997)

Recordings and CDs

Through the generous contributions of the Annenburg Foundation, AFPOB has supported the production of audio recordings and CDs, which bring the Paris Opera’s historic masterpieces to a wider audience. Our organization has had the distinct pleasure to be involved in the following: a 2013 recording of extracts from Wagner’s “The Ring,” which had not been performed as a complete cycle at the Paris Opera since 1957; a 2014 recording of extracts from “Daphnis & Chloe” as well as “La Valse” ; and a  2016 recording of  three live symphonic concerts, including Serguei Prokofiev’s “Symphonie Classique”, Maurice Ravel’s “Concerto en Sol” and Modest Moussorgski’s “Tableaux d’une Exposition” all performed by the Orchestra of the Paris National Opera.