The Annenberg Foundation / Gregory et Regina Annenberg Weingarten.
Main partner of Les Talens Lyriques
When was the Annenberg Foundation founded? What is its activity?
The Annenberg Foundation is an American organization founded in 1989 by Walter Annenberg. Mr. Annenberg a press magnate in the United States, decided to bequeath a part of his fortune to the establishment of this philanthropic entity with two main initial orientations: communication and education. This did not exclude – quite the opposite – broad involvement in the life of the most prestigious cultural institutions of the United States. He left his collection of major works of impressionist painters to the Metropolitan Museum of New York.
He was the ambassador to the United Kingdom from 1969 to 1974 and during his time there he made exceptional donations to British institutions including the British Museum and the National Gallery, among others. His grandson, Gregory Annenberg Weingarten, Vice-President of the Foundation, continues the philanthropic work of his grandfather in the United States and Europe, both in Great Britain and in France. I have the good fortune of assisting him in the choices of projects that he supports, particularly in the field of classical music and opera.
When did you discover Les Talens Lyriques?
I discovered Les Talens Lyriques in November 2003 at a performance of "La Betulia Liberata" by Mozart at the Théâtre des Champs-Élysées, sung by Jaël Azzaretti and Ann Hallenberg. I have a very clear memory of a magnificent musical discovery: finally something new! Like a spark in the world of Baroque music. Then we were introduced to Christophe Rousset whose lively and subtle interpretation of Mozart had enchanted us at that performance. Several months later, we decided to support his tour of the United States. Full of musical and intellectual curiosity I naturally agreed to join the Board of Directors of Les Talens Lyriques. I didn’t know the Ensemble well, but I knew that it was the beginning of a beautiful adventure.
What do you see as the particular characteristics of Les Talens Lyriques?
We have been supporting Les Talens Lyriques since 2004 and the evolution of Christophe Rousset and his orchestra continually surprises us. The quality of the work and the exceptional talent of the director and his ensemble convince us more than ever that we didn’t make a mistake. One day, listening to the radio, a breathtaking interpretation of "Vertigo" of Pancrace Royer stopped us in our tracks! When the piece ended, we heard that it had been played by Christophe Rousset, Ah! Of course!!!
And more recently, opening the newspaper and reading the press’s ecstatic praise of "Bellérophon," which Mr. Rousset found on the shelves of an old library and dusted off to present to us with such grace and elegance. This approach of seeking out excellent but forgotten works is of particular interest for us. We are very curious about "Hercule Mourant" by Dauvergne which will be presented in November 2011. This type of challenge makes Baroque music seem very contemporary, because it is an unusual approach.
Also, the teaching residences are, in our opinion, essential for the dissemination of Classical and Baroque music to young populations who would not have taken an interest in it if Les Talens had not decided to rehearse in the hall of their junior high school. No other musical ensemble has ever undertaken such a fruitful project, to the best of our knowledge.
Do you have a particular attachment to one of the projects of this 2011 – 2012 season?
We took part in the production of "Bellérophon" and also the 3 "Tragédiennes" CDs recorded with Véronique Gens and, hearing the ease with which Les Talens and their conductor switched from Gluck and Rameau to Rossini and Berlioz, we have no doubt that Christophe Rousset is a great orchestra conductor.
Les Talens know how to take the music they are given to perform and to offer it to us with incredible beauty.
As a sponsor, what more could you ask for?
Regina Weingarten, september 2011.