The illustrious Scheherazade from One Thousand and One Nights escapes death by telling stories night after night. In so doing, she intrigued Persian kings and artists from all over the place. Tristan Klingsor named a collection of poems after the mysterious narrator. Maurice Ravel set three of the tales to music: Asie, La Flûte enchantée and L’Indifférent. He takes us on a journey of exotic sounds, places and loves. These colourful songs in their turn inspired the multi-talented Haider Al Timimi, who wows audiences with his contemporary choreography.

Ravel was also fascinated by Spain, witness his amusing one-act opera L’heure Espagnole. By his own admission the composer wanted to breathe new life into the comic Italian opera. So he chose the popular play by Franc-Nohain, which is awash with comic potential. The ingredients? A dutiful clockmaker and his adulterous wife. Add to that a muscular muleteer and some lovers, and lock them up in a clock. Served up with a fun score by Ravel – the ticking clocks even pop up in the music – and you have a winning combination. A perfect fit for director Tom Goossens, who has some experience of opera and comic love intrigues.

This two-parter marks the start of a collaboration between Opera Ballet Vlaanderen and Youth Orchestra Flanders. This new, symphonic youth orchestra was set up in partnership with Brussels Philharmonic, Antwerp Symphony Orchestra and the Opera Ballet Vlaanderen Symphony Orchestra. Under the supervision of experienced orchestra members and conductors, promising young musicians get the opportunity to experience the professional circuit in the major cultural houses. In addition to the symphonic repertoire, the emerging musicians will get to play for ballet and opera in the two seasons. For this premiere, the Youth Orchestra Flanders will be guided through Ravel's virtuoso orchestral scores under the musical direction of none other than Alejo Pérez.

French with Dutch and English surtitles  

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