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The Phil Takes a Bold Mix to Paris

September 15, 1996

The Los Angeles Philharmonic returns to Paris today after a 16-year absence, opening a concert series at the Theatre du Chatelet that promises to ratify the world-class stature of conductor Esa-Pekka Salonen and the orchestra.

The Philharmonic will present 15 events over 26 days, including opera, symphony, chamber music and Philharmonic New Music Group concerts. Pierre Boulez, the celebrated French composer, will mark his longtime association with Los Angeles by conducting the orchestra in one concert.

In the series is a new production of the opera "The Rake's Progress," composed by Igor Stravinsky during his 30-year stay in Los Angeles. It will be staged by Peter Sellars, the prestigious American director.

The Philharmonic is "the first American orchestra invited to be in residence for both opera and concert performances at this prestigious venue [Theatre du Chatelet]," Ernest Fleischman, the orchestra's managing director, points out.

The Paris theater has a rich history of performances dating to 1862. It was there that Sergei Diaghilev opened his Ballets Russes and introduced to astonished audiences the avant garde works of Stravinsky, Maurice Ravel and Claude Debussy.

Three years ago, Salonen and the L.A. Philharmonic won acclaim at the Salzburg Festival for their performance of the Olivier Messiaen opera "St. Francois d'Assise." Now the entourage hopes to further burnish its reputation in Europe through its bold Parisian program.

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