Stage Door News

Versailles: Marshall Pynkoski and Jeannette Lajeunesse Zingg are invested as Officers of the Order of Arts and Letters of France

Thursday, November 18, 2021

We are delighted to share that Marshall Pynkoski and Jeannette Lajeunesse Zingg's production of Grétry's Richard Coeur-de-Lion has enjoyed a triumphant return engagement at the Royal Opera House Versailles.

Following the opening night performance, Marshall and Jeannette celebrated their investiture as Officers of the Order of Arts and Letters (Officiers de l'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres) on the stage of the Royal Opera House Versailles. (Pynkoski and Zingg are already Chevaliers de l’Order; “Officiers" is the next level higher.)

The speech by Laurent Brunner, Directeur de Château de Versailles spectacles, was particularly moving, and we are proud to share it with you here, translated by Charles Di Meglio:

"Dear artist friends, Dear members of the audience,

I would like to ask for a couple minutes of your attention, to add to tonight's triumph, a few words to accompany the official distinction of our dear Jeannette Lajeunesse Zingg and our dear Marshall Pynkoski, the choreographer and director of this show.

Dear Canadian friends,

It is to two devotees of the Opera Royal in Versailles that I am speaking to, as you have presented here in the last years four productions of your own Opera Atelier from Toronto: Lully's Armide and Persée, Charpentier's Médée and Actéon and finally Rameau's Pygmalion. But before showing them in Versailles, you had presented these productions in Toronto, an almost exclusively anglophone Canadian town. Now that's a feat, fruit of admirable tenacity, and of a great passion for French art from the 17th and 18th centuries, that you know so well.

You honour French opera, and have done so for tens of years, from the other side of the Atlantic ocean. You keep it alive, without even asking help from the French government: your productions are put together nearly without grants, but thanks to your public and devoted donors, which support you, and whom I salute tonight as some of them are present, especially come from Toronto.

France shares with Canada a human history, a linguistic history and today, a cultural history. On this 11th of November, in which French people remember their elders fallen on the battlefield, we also remember the Canadian soldiers fallen at their sides during WWI, with more than 60.000 dead out of a corps of 600.000 men.

It is in the same spirit that we sang La Marseillaise, here, on this stage, the day after the Bataclan massacre, before opening one of your shows.

Yes, two years ago, with the support of ADOR, and the enthusiasm of our dearly beloved Joëlle Broguet who was so fond of you, you mounted this Richard Cœur de Lion, a crucial work of French music and to our opera's history.

Therefore France would like to thank you, tonight, at the Château de Versailles, and I will do so in the name of the president Catherine Pégard.

In the name of the French republic, and by the powers invested in me, I make you officer of the Order of the Arts and Letters."

Photo: Marshall Pynkoski and Jeannette Lajeunesse Zingg on stage at the Royal Opera House Versailles accompanied by the cast of Richard Coeur-de-Lion. © 2021 Gauthier Brunner.