Emmanuelle Haim, France's attention-grabbing conductor
When the vibrant French conductor Emmanuelle Haïm guest-conducts the Los Angeles Philharmonic at the Walt Disney Concert Hall (Nov. 17, 19 and 20), it will mark the debut West Coast performance by an attention-grabbing Baroque music star who has earned rave reviews in Europe.
The Paris-born Haïm grew up immersed in music. She descends from a long line of professional musicians from Brittany, but her musical interest was propelled along by virtuoso musician friends with ties to the homeland of her stepfather, a Hungarian.
Her musical culture, however, is almost exclusively classical. "My colleagues can't believe how ignorant I am in terms of popular musical culture," she said with a cackle of laughter in a recent interview at her home in the Parisian suburb of Asnières-sur-Seine. “My entourage despairs that I have zero culture for other things. I don’t even know who anyone is. My brothers and sisters are not at all like that so it wasn’t because of my environment; it must be me. I know nothing.”
Beyond that, Haïm notes with a mischievous grin, the “voluptuous and beautiful” Yoncheva has “beaucoup d’arguments” — a playful French expression that means appealing breasts. Haïm explained that Yoncheva is performing the role of Poppée (in a version of Handel’s “Aggripine” in the French city of Lille), a character who engages in a sensual partial striptease that drew a little too much attention from Haïm’s musicians.
“I told them," Haïm recounted, "'be polite enough to look at me.'”
-- Eric Pape
Photo credit: Simon Fowler