What are Les Escales Lyriques?
Les Escales Lyriques’ first raison d’être is to encourage talented young soloists at the start of their career and, secondly, to provide, to the many spectators who have never set foot in an opera house, the opportunity to listen to this incredibly beautiful form of classical music. To discover opera at any age is an enduring joy.
Our shows are carefully selected to give pleasure both to the opera buff and to the first-time spectator. All the performances are equipped with surtitles (immediate translation of the arias), they take place in Ile d’Yeu’s small, unpretentious theatre and have been carefully shortened (so as not to last more than 2 1/2 hours).
The musical accompaniment consists of a simple piano sometimes transformed into a mini-orchestra by adding one or two other instruments.
The simplicity of the production is suited to the lieu and moment: a fashionable seaside island resort, a warm summer evening, a small local theatre and an audience of locals and tourists come for the wonderfully inspiring music..
Productions are managed by talented professional opera directors who are in total accord with Les Escales Lyrique’s raison d’être.
The opera directors enjoy the challenge of making an opera come alive with a minimum décor and accessories and, also, of working with up-and-coming artists. Indeed, months later they frequently offer small roles in their productions to the young singers they have worked with in Escales Lyrique’s workshop. For the singers these offers are treasured as great opportunities in the extremely-competitive world of opera.
Young singers need above all to acquire musical rigueur, to find the true meaning of the text, to understand their character’s motivations and, then, to interpret the role musically on stage for several performances.
Les Escales Lyriques holds auditions in January in Paris to select the singers for the roles of the opera chosen for the following summer on Ile d’Yeu. The production is always led by an experienced director with his or her support team of stage professionals. First rehearsals are in Paris at the end of June followed by 2 weeks in July on Ile d’Yeu with the director. It ends with the 3 public performances spread over a week in early August.
The chorus is made up of professional choristers from a prestigious chorus based in Western France, Ensemble Vocal Polymnie, with a few added amateur singers from Ile d’Yeu.
Les EL ’s Local Actions
For Amateur Singers
A musical 5-day workshop for amateur singers of Ile d’Yeu is held annually in October. A singing teacher and two pianists come to the island to train the amateur group. Training includes individual lessons, small groups singing by tessiture, or the entire chorus singing various works from the 16th to the 20th Century.
This year’s Singing Workshop (October 28 – Novembre 1, 2021) was to be held by Fabrice Maurin (Singing Professor at the Conservatoire of La Rochelle). Unfortunately, he couldn’t make it for personal reasons. However, he was replaced by Martin Barigault and by Laudine Bignonet and Guillaume Corti, pianists.
For 11-12 year olds
Once a month Les Ecales Lyriques sends a singing teacher and a violisnist from the mainland to initiate the 11-12year-old islanders to the art of opera and its specific singing style. Presently, between the local state school, Collège Les Sicardières, and the private school, l’École Notre-Dame, there are two groups of more than 30 youngsters of that age group on Ile d’Yeu.
Tourism and culture
L’association Les Escales Lyriques participe à l’animation culturelle d’un territoire insulaire. Ses actions (formations et concerts) se prolongent au delà de la saison touristique. Elles concernent ainsi non seulement une population estivale mais aussi les habitants de l’Île d’Yeu, résidant à l’année sur une terre isolée du continent.
Opera by the Sea
Les Escales Lyiques, a French, non-profit musical association, founded in 2005, plays a vital role in promoting musical training on the island. Its activities range from vocational training, workshops, concerts and opera performances, reaching not only the summer tourist population but the inhabitants who live all year round on this small island far from the mainland.
Jutting way out into the Atlantic, l’Île d’Yeu is a small (9km by 4km) island far off the coast of the Département of La Vendée.. It is a 40 kilometre walk round the island. The jagged cliffs, coves and beaches on the south-western coast contrast with the long sandy beaches which skirt the north and eastern sides. The low, white-washed cottages on the narrow streets of the harbor, Port Joinville, have evocative names such as: rue du Paradis (Paradise), rue du Secret, Rue de l’Argenterie (Silverware)…
The small paths that go from the Côte Sauvage (Wild Coast) to the Pointe des Corbeaux are best discovered by bike or on foot and will lead you to Ile d’Yeu’s main sites: la Pointe du Châtelet, the natural harbour of La Meule, the Vieux Château, la Plage des Vieilles …
Blessed with a mild climate and lots of sun, camellias, laurel, mimosa and holyhocks are everywhere. Over 750 flowering species grow on just 23km2.
Ile d’Yeu, located along the major maritime routes, has always been a convenient stopover. In the 18th Century, sailors from the island used to ferry goods between Bordeaux and the north of France. This trade route existed for over a century in spite of frequent attacks by English pirates.
Many islanders then specialized in long-distance maritime transport, others became sardine or tuna fishermen which led ultimately to canning factories where many of the women found employment.
The harbor which changed its name in 1846 to Port Joinville became the natural commercial centre of the island. Between the two World Wars transport by motor boat gradually replaced that by sail boat. The last sailboats used for commercial purposes disappeared circa 1950.