Gounod's Faust at Limoges opera

Opera in Limoges: Gounod’s “Faust”

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A chance to see an opera while seeing Limoges for the first time

I had hoped we’d get to Limoges, which we’d never been to, and see what the surrounding region was like as well. It was just a last-minute bonus to find that we could make our dates coincide with a matinee performance at the opera house on Sunday, March 19. I found YouTube videos that let Kristian hear the singers slated to perform, and he was convinced. We decided to spend three nights in Limoges, to make it a restful pause as well.

Lodging were the tricky part, but we lucked out, last minute

photo credit: Kristian Soederberg
Milazzo in Limoges, with several tiny rental units

We had a hard time finding a place to stay, though, as we wanted to keep lodging costs at a minimum, yet were hoping to cook for ourselves. The first couple of apartment-hotels we drove up to seemed dreadful – actually, the second one, we couldn’t actually locate, though we seemed to be at the right address. Very discouraging. Then suddenly, as I re-checked booking.com, a listing appeared that hadn’t turned up an hour before. Will never know why, but it was a godsend. We ended up in a tiny ground-floor self-catering unit, walking distance (about 30 minutes) to the center of town and the opera, and with a very friendly host to boot.

Getting a look at the city center, everything reachable on foot

On Saturday we walked to the city center to see the market (Halles) and have a look around downtown. The market wasn’t the largest, nor were all vendors exhibiting when we got there, but we found good things for our next two dinners. First, rouget (red mullet), and then – we gave into the temptation of foie gras and bought a nice lobe to sauté. Our tiny flat had but two burners, and some sort of oven we got little use of, but we were extremely happy with our meals there and felt privileged to enjoy such good things.

Of course we looked around the city a while that afternoon. One of the delights we found was an exquisite Liberty / Art Nouveau style building that houses an art exhibition.

You might think we’re very religious, if you browse many of the church photos on this site, but it’s simply that the architecture of these structures is so stunning, from simply impressive and beautiful to completely breathtaking, whether Gothic, Romanesque or Renaissance, or a mix of many styles from repairs and additions over the years. You never know quite what you’ll find when you step inside, so we step inside rather often. And so on this day we explored Saint-Michel-des-Lions. I’ll recommend wikipedia for its history and a brief account of all the damage the church has suffered over the centuries.

The highlight! Faust at Limoges Opera

And Sunday afternoon, the Opéra de Limoges! The cast of principal singers for this production of Faust was:

Faust : Julien Dran
Marguerite : Gabrielle Philiponet
Méphistophélès : Nicolas Cavallier
Valentin : Anas Seguin
Wagner : Thibault De Damas
Siébel : Éléonore Pancrazi
Dame Marthe : Marie-Ange Todorovitch

I was particularly happy with the performances of Gabrielle Philiponet, Éléonore Pancrazi and Julien Dran. For the first two, I’ve made links to a YouTube video just to hear the voice, even if in other operas. I didn’t link Julien Dran, as I mostly found recital excerpts from a concert in Aigues-Mortes; perhaps your searches will turn up some interesting performances, and you’ll let me know by leaving a comment below! Would be glad to hear opinions of any of these singers and their perfomances, or of this production of Faust if anyone reading this has caught it some time.

It was a very enjoyable afternoon; we had good seats for a very satisfying performance. And for an added treat. I had the cheapest glass of champagne at an opera interval that I can ever remember. Seriously, we enjoyed this opera house and I would happily return to Limoges some time to catch another production. The building itself wasn’t the least bit attractive from outside, the foyer and bar areas were very small so not conducive to mingling with other attendees, and there was but one restroom for each gender, but none of that mattered.

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