Michel Bouvet and the Opéra de Massy

Poster artist. That's how Michel Bouvet describes himself. His creations have formed the visual identity of the Opéra de Massy.

Cendrillon poster, 2009 (2009) by Michel Bouvet and Jules MassenetOpéra de Massy

A shoe lost, a prince found !

"Rather than represent Cinderella, seen time and time again on posters on the topic, I focused on the castle. It's a fantastical, poetic dream castle."

Boris Godounov and Lady MacBeth de Mzensk poster, 2007 (2007) by Michel Bouvet, Modeste Moussorgski, and Dmitri ChostakovitchOpéra de Massy

The Ural winds blow in Massy

In 2007, the Opéra de Massy undertook a Russian cycle. "This poster represented a particular challenge, because it had to do with two operas with different stories. They only had one thing in common : they were Russian. So, I represented Saint Basil's Cathedral in Moscow, which I am particularly fond of."

Massy's Opera inauguration poster, 1993 (1993) by Michel Bouvet and Fabrice BoissièreOpéra de Massy

Showing off the Opéra !

"Since opening day, Jack-Henri Soumère entrusted me with creating the posters for the Opéra de Massy. It's an honor, of course, but it is also a big responsibility. The challenge is immense : entice the public to come to an establishment located in an unusual environment. It's a risky bet, but the spectators flock here."

Michel Bouvet, portrait by Michel Bouvet and Melchior ImbodenOpéra de Massy

The Turkish in Italy poster, 2000 (2000) by Michel Bouvet, Michel Monteaux, and Gioacchino RossiniOpéra de Massy

One espresso, please !

"At the opera, drama is more concentrated, twists are more frequent, and feelings are often more strongly expressed. So you have to get to the core of the work, its essence, to transmit it to the public. That's where the main difficulty lies: to simplify without diminishing, to render without distorting."

Cosi Fan Tutte poster, 2009 (2009) by Michel Bouvet and Wolfgang Amadeus MozartOpéra de Massy

Once upon a time in Napoli

"In the opera by Mozart ("Cosi Fan Tutte"), the conflict is nonstop. So, I envisioned these two violins as two characters facing off against the backdrop of the Gulf of Naples, where the action takes place."

Don Giovanni poster, 2009 (2006) by Michel Bouvet and Wolfgang Amadeus MozartOpéra de Massy


"Don Juan strings together romantic adventures and breaks hearts. This image represents this pile of successes, which are romantic disappointments for his female victims in equal measure."

The Magic Flute poster, 2009 (1998/1999) by Michel Bouvet, Michel Monteaux, and Wolfgang Amadeus MozartOpéra de Massy

Fired up

"In the early years of my collaboration, the posters were often photographic and sometimes echoed those that I designed and produced at the same time for theater and dance. "In 1999, for "The Magic Flute", Michel Bouvet worked with the photographer Michel Monteaux and found himself enticed by special effects! For the poster, several people worked a long, cold night when they had to set fire to a barrel full of fuel and capture it with the surface of a pond.

Preparatory sketches for 2018/2019 season (2018/2019) by Michel BouvetOpéra de Massy

Beyond words

Sometimes, the text builds on the image with a play on words. "Très beau temps pour la saison" ("Very nice weather for the season") was the title of the poster announcing the 1994/1995 season, above a bouquet of flowers—like the one the diva receives at the end of the performance—wrapped in sheet music.

Massy Opera house season poster, 1994/1995 (1994/1995) by Michel BouvetOpéra de Massy

To work !

"One day, during a conversation about a new project, Jack-Henri Soumère urged me to draw rather than take photographs. This struck me as a kind of revelation. You see, before all final work, I draw and present a dozen preparatory sketches. Why not transcribe them, make them larger through drawing ? The original design in the sketch is enlarged, transformed, improved upon."

Faust poster, 2009 (2009) by Michel Bouvet and Charles GounodOpéra de Massy

The golden calf is still standing

"Faust sells his soul to the devil. The heart transforms into a theater or opera mask. It is crowned with devil's horns. Houses in the Germanic style set the scene for the work of Goethe."

The Makropoulos Case poster, 2008 (2008) by Michel Bouvet and Leos JanacekOpéra de Massy

How far are you willing to go for eternal life?

"It isn't just one incident, but many. The Russian doll symbolizes these progressive discoveries. In the background, Wenceslas Square, in Prague, sets the scene for this Czech opera."

Michel Bouvet, posters exhibition, Tokyo, 2014 (2014) by Michel BouvetOpéra de Massy

Entice poster-lovers under different circumstances

"The posters for the Opéra de Massy are on permanent exhibition in museums, galleries, and universities around the world. They also do the work of introducing the name and the productions of the Opéra de Massy in new places."

Madam Butterfly poster, 2008 (2007) by Michel Bouvet and Giacomo PucciniOpéra de Massy

Madama Butterfly

"Like a metaphor, the moon eclipses the red sun, which is also the symbol of Japan. This is the story of a painful betrayal, like these waves that break in front of the Japanese pagodas."

Rigoletto poster, 2007 (2007) by Michel Bouvet and Giuseppe VerdiOpéra de Massy

From an unknown play.

"A drama of passion, betrayal, filial love, and vengeance, "Rigoletto" is symbolized in this poster by a dagger emerging from a mouth, like the tongue of a viper."

Tosca poster, 2009 (2009) by Michel Bouvet and Giacomo PucciniOpéra de Massy

"I lived for art. I lived for love. I never harmed a living soul ! … O Lord, why do you reward me thus ?"

"Floria Tosca, in the Puccini opera, is a singer as well as the jealous mistress of a painter who specializes in portraits of women. The painter's palette, against the backdrop of the Roman Colosseum, represents the heart of a woman pierced by an arrow."

Michel Bouvet is drawing, 2008 (2008) by Michel BouvetOpéra de Massy

Turandot poster, 2009 (2009) by Michel Bouvet and Giacomo PucciniOpéra de Massy

The Inflexible Princess Turandot

"I was given one of the bloodiest operas to put into images. The pagodas, symbolizing China, where the action takes place, are topped by swords, arranged like drumsticksabove the war drum."

Il viaggio a Reims poster, 2008 (2008) by Michel Bouvet and Gioacchino RossiniOpéra de Massy

Quite a voyage!

"For the crowning of the king at Reims, I showed the cathedral, crowned. It is a simple but effective metaphor."

Michel Bouvet in Bogota by Michel BouvetOpéra de Massy

Credits: Story

Virtual exhibition created and written by Eugénie Boivin for the Opéra de Massy with the support of Michel Bouvet.
The history of the Opéra has intrinsically been linked to the creations of Michel Bouvet. This is his story !
We thank Michel Bouvet for his availability, for his kindness, and for using his talent for the good of our organization.

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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