The Ambassador’s message
I am very happy and proud today, to announce the lifting of the curtain on the French festival Voilah!. For a month, from mid-March to mid-April, Singapore will engage in French revelry under the rubric of Voilah! French Festival Singapore 2009, the first chapter of the European season launched by the Embassy of France last year, as will be the case again this year. Encore! The European Season in Singapore will open with Voilah! and run till October.
I am pleased to find the efforts of our country unified under a single banner to bring to Singapore the colours of the "French Spring" that flourish throughout Asia. This united France comprises the embassy, the French Chamber of Commerce, partner of Voilah!, the Alliance Française, the Maison de la France, restaurants and partners of the « Festival de la Gastronomie » and of course, the French and Singaporean organisations that lent their support to this ambitious endeavour. This is the second edition of the "French Spring", which was executed with great success in 2007 by the French Chamber of Commerce in Singapore, with support from the embassy.
Voilah! opens with the majestic masterpiece of Jacques Offenbach, « Les Contes d’Hoffmann », performed in French and as the sole lyrical event presented in the city-state in 2009. The cast of this production of the Opéra de Nice is remarkable, bringing together on the same stage immense talent from Europe and Asia: the great French tenor Luca Lombardo features in the title role of Hoffmann, while Singaporean Nancy Yuen plays Antonia and Zhao Yun Hong, from China, sings Olympia. Benjamin Pionnier, a precocious talent and rising star in orchestral conducting, presides in the pit while artistic director of the Opera de Nice, Paul-Emile Fourny presents virtuoso and inspired stage direction. Only four performances are scheduled for this exceptional production at the Esplanade Theatre – on 13, 14, 16 and 17 March, 8pm – and I urge you not to miss this celebration of French lyrical excellence and to reserve your seats by calling 63 48 55 55 or visiting www.sistic.com.sg.
And if « Contes d’Hoffmann » whets your appetite for opera, you will find fragrance around the costumes designed for the stage by Christian Lacroix. The National Museum presents, from 20 March to 7 June, an exhibition of some 80 stage costumes designed by the French fashion designer for opera, theatre and dance. After the showcase of masterpieces in Greek art from the Louvre in 2008, our country is once again gracing the Singapore art scene with another flagship event that is equally exceptional in quality and design.
Voilah! offers some twenty events presenting all facets of our cultural know-how, in theatre (with « Members only », a French play produced by our compatriot Nathalie Ribette), opera, cinema, contemporary music, photography and, of course, gastronomy. Many institutions have in fact committed to providing, during the « Festival de la Gastronomie française » from 1 to 15 April, a feast for the senses in the form of a menu at S$30. It is not possible for me to list all the events in this brief message, but you may find comprehensive information on the official website of the Season (www.europeanseason.com)
I am also pleased to inform you that the Foreign Ministers of our two countries have signed, on 20 January, an agreement on cultural cooperation that made France the preferred partner of Singapore in its drive to become a regional hub for culture and the arts. It is a prelude to the emergence of new and more ambitious projects in the years to come. By working in this manner, we project the image of a France that is at once creative, dynamic, refined and elegant, an image that will have a positive impact on our business interests here. I sincerely hope that each of us will partake in this undertaking, that the festival Voilah! becomes yours and that it gives you in these times of crisis, pleasure, happiness and enrichment.
Ambassador of France to Singapore