Music of passions, movement and contrast, baroque music, with its capacity to surprise and move the audience, speaks to each and every one of us. To bring it fully into the present day, Les Nouveaux Caractères invite us to rediscover these works not as echoes of a distant past, but as a powerful and immediate art form that resonates in the present.
In 2006, Caroline Mutel, an opera singer, and Sébastien d'Hérin, a harpsichordist, founded Les Nouveaux Caractères, an orchestra on historical instruments. Based in Lyon, the ensemble is particularly interested in vocal music from the 17th and 18th centuries. From Monteverdi's first opera, Orfeo (1607), to Rousseau's Devin du village (1752), Les Nouveaux Caractères study, perform and pass on this precious heritage. The ensemble's distinctive feature is to involve the instrumentalists in the scenic work, in order to abolish the barrier between pit and stage and to favor a complete appropriation of the works by their interpreters.
Whether in emblematic venues where baroque music has been performed since the time of Louis XIV (the Royal Chapel at the Château de Versailles), in internationally renowned venues (the Lyon Auditorium as an 'associated ensemble', the Lyon Opera, the Ambronay Festival, Sinfonia en Périgord, La Chaise-Dieu, Cervantino) or on national theatres and stages (Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines, Point Commun-Nouvelle scène nationale de Pontoise), Les Nouveaux Caractères have set themselves the task of bringing baroque music to life with passion and rigour, and to make it accessible to all audiences through a variety of initiatives.
Alongside the leading works of the genre, Les Nouveaux Caractères also promote a repertoire of rarer and even unpublished works. In concert and on record, they have brought back to life Égine by Colin de Blamont, Les Surprises de l'Amour by Jean-Philippe Rameau, L'Europe galante by Campra, Scylla et Glaucus by Leclair and Circé by Desmarets. Their artistic orientations and choices are based on in-depth musicological work.
Through their concerts and performances, and their involvement in a wide range of artistic and cultural education initiatives, Les Nouveaux Caractères help audiences to discover and enjoy a repertoire, raise questions and stimulate interest, and weave links with a view to making music more accessible, sharing knowledge, and making it both erudite and popular at the same time. Our desire is to pass on the codes of a music that, by virtue of its richness, carries within itself the elements of appropriation by all audiences. Our commitment to social issues is also expressed through various outreach activities with secondary school students, unaccompanied minors and people in social rehabilitation.
To create a link between contemporary audiences and ancient musical heritage, Les Nouveaux Caractères regularly offers a multi-disciplinary approach to its works, bringing together a range of performers (dancers, circus artists, sound and light designers, comic strip artists, etc.) and seeking to promote the pleasure of invention and encounter as on Pergolesi's Stabat Mater, the shows for young audiences such as Monsieur Croche, Bach=14, Du coq à l'âne, Purcell's operas Dido and Aeneas and The Fairy Queen, and Pergolesi's Livietta e Tracollo.
Les Nouveaux Caractères is also keen to regularly integrate young artists from Lyon's higher education establishments (CNSMD, CRR, ENSATT).
Finally, musicology (edition and publishing of unpublished scores) and organology (restoring a forgotten instrument) are among the research activities developed by Sébastien d'Hérin and his ensemble.
Les Nouveaux Caractères are supported for all their activities by the Ministry of Culture / Regional Directorate of Cultural Affairs Auvergne – Rhône-Alpes, the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes Region, the Metropolis of Lyon, City of Lyon, National center of music, SPEDIDAM, ADAMI, Caisse des dépôts, FCM The Funds for Musical Creation, the Export Office, Fondation de France.
They are Associated Ensemble of the Auditorium of Lyon from the 19/20 season, and are members of FEVIS, PROFEDIM and the Export Office.
Since January 2021, they have been in residence at the Institution des Chartreux (Lyon) and benefit from the support of the Chartreux Endowment Fund.
Since September 2021, they are a formative organization.
EbulliScience, Microsoft non-profit, Nowteam company (digital partner), Atis de Conta company, PhaSme graphic workshop, Cédric Rouillat (photographer), Orfis Baker Tilly and Rhône Development Initiative