Patrick Fournillier, ever since he was awarded the Salzburg First International Prize in 1982, enjoys continuous and successful collaborations with the most important opera houses in France, Italy and Spain. He is also frequently invited to conduct at the Grand Théâtre de Génève, Zurich Opernhaus, the National Theatre in Zagreb, Welsh National Opera, Montreal Opera and Seattle Opera. He regularly works with the Orchestre de la Radio Suisse Romande, Czech Philharmonic Orchestra, Prague Philharmonic Orchestra, BBC Symphony Orchestra, Europe Chamber Orchestra, English Chamber Orchestra and Slovenian Radio Television Orchestra, conducting numerous symphonic concerts in Europe, Egypt and United States.
His numerous collaborations include: Don Quichotte and Carmen at the Teatro Regio in Turin; Werther at the Opéra des Flandres; Lucia di Lammermoor, Semiramide and Carmen at the Deutsche Oper Berlin; Faust at the Ravenna Festival; Les Dialogues des Carmélites and Carmen in Oslo; Pagliacci and Cavalleria Rusticana in Seattle; Aida in Amsterdam and Mannheim; La Sonnambula at the Arena and the Teatro Filarmonico in Verona; Alfano’s Cyrano de Bergerac at the Teatro alla Scala in Milan and in Valencia; Manon at the Berlin Staatsoper; Faust at the Opernhaus Zurich; La Damnation de Faust at the Dresden Semperoper; Manon at the Opera de Nice; Werther at the Bayerische Staatsoper in Munich; a Gala Concert for the re-opening of the Opéra Comique Salle Favart in Paris (1989), with June Anderson, Rockwell Blake and the Orchestra of the Opéra National de Paris; Gounod’s Faust in Milan; Cherubini’s Médée at the Martina Franca Festival; La Sonnambula and La Bohème at the Teatro dell’Opera in Rome; and Chérubin at the Opéra de Montecarlo. He is a frequent guest at the Massenet Festival, where he led Cleopatra, the oratorio La Vierge, Esclarmonde, Grisélidis, Panurge and Le Cid, Gounod’s Sapho and Thaïs. Other operas he conducted are: Adam’s Postillon de Longiumeau; Massenet’s Histoire de Manon; Berlioz’s Le Rouge et le Noir; and Henze’s Undine. In October 2010, Mr. Fournillier made his debut at the Metropolitan Opera in New York with Les Contes d’Hoffmann and at the San Francisco Opera with Cyrano.
He recently conducted: La Traviata at the Ravenna Festival and in Parma with the Fondazione Arturo Toscanini; Werther at the Bayerische Staatsoper; La Damnation de Faust at the Dresden Semperoper; Iphigénie en Tauride at the Palau de les Arts in Valencia; I Pagliacci and Adriana Lecouvreur in Florence; Cyrano in Paris and Valencia; Turandot, Lucia di Lammermoor, Carmen, La Traviata and Manon Lescaut at the Staatstheater in Stuttgart; Le Nozze di Figaro at the Washington Opera; Rigoletto and La Traviata in Turin; Turandot, Manon Lescaut and a gala concert in Warsaw; Carmen in Dresden and in Oman; Thaïs in Valencia; Aida in Oman; Carmen at the Opernhaus in Zurich; Manon Lescaut in Dreden; Les Contes d’Hoffmann in San Francisco.
Recent highlights include: Thais at the Salzburg Festival and in Barcelona; a new production of Coppellia at La Scala Milan; Manon in Bilbao; La File du Regiment in Gran Canaria; Il Trovatore and Tosca in Helsinki and Romeo et Juliette in Beijing. He is Principal Guest Conductor of the Finnish National Opera and conducted ‘Don Giovanni’ and ‘La Boheme’ last season.
“Tuesday’s official first night in Birmingham was musically so superb that only the most determinedly mean-minded curmudgeon could deny that they had been present at the unveiling of a little masterpiece. Everything was right; the conductor, the orchestra, the carefully prepared singers all caught at just the right stage of their careers.
The conductor in question was Patrick Fournillier, a Massenet specialist, presiding genius of the summer festival in the composer’s birth-pace of St Etienne and responsible for many authoritative Massenet recordings. Not only does he know exactly how the music should go – lightly, pacily, with a flick of the wrist and the occasional tug at the heartstrings – but he was able to communicate that knowledge to the WNO orchestra. The playing was crisp, elegant, perfectly balanced and headily perfumed where appropriate. I cannot have been the only member of the audience enchanted by the sheer exuberance of Massenet’s orchestral invention and the brilliance with which it was executed.
Fournillier also helped a British cast singing in English sound like French singers of the old school in the breadth of the phrasing, the pliant moulding of the vocal lines and pungency of the projection.
But Christmas is upon us, the audience loved it, and nothing could spoil conducting and singing of such heart-warming distinction.”
Rodney Milnes, THE TIMES
“When Cendrillon was performed at the Manchester College last year how on earth I concluded that it was Massenet below his best I cannot imagine. After hearing Welsh National’s production, the first professional staging of this opera in Britain, I apologise unreservedly to the shade of a composer I revere.
Perhaps I have some excuse, for it is not often that one hears a Massenet score conducted with such total sympathy and insight as Cendrillon was on Tuesday at Birmingham Hippodrome by Patrick Fournillier, musical director since 1988 of the Massenet Festival, making his British debut.
Those endearing phrases which wrap themselves round the heart he caressed with a loving touch that was never sentimental. The gaiety and colour of the score, as well as it’s Manon-like tendresse, shone and sparkled; and the orchestra played with warmth and refinement of tone. Like the opera, it was magic.
…this is an evening in the theatre to lift the spirit. The production moves to Oxford and Bristol before returning to Cardiff. It’s worth travelling miles to catch.”
Michael Kennedy, SUNDAY TELEGRAPH