The Orchestra


Comprised of 66 musicians, the Lorraine National Opera Orchestra performs at operas and concerts throughout the season.

For the more curious, here are some keys to understanding the composition of an orchestra!
The musicians are arranged in a semi-circle around the conductor and are divided into four groups called families: the strings, the woodwinds, the brass section and the percussions.
Often, two other instruments are added to these different families: the harp and the piano.

The strings

These are the musicians who are positioned closest to the conductor. They are also the most numerous. Their family name comes from the fact that all the instruments have strings which need to be stroked with a bow to produce a sound. There are four instruments in this family: the violin, the viola, the cello and the double bass.

The woodwinds

These musicians are usually placed in a line behind the strings. Their name comes from the fact that these instruments are made of wood (as was the flute, originally). To produce a sound, one must blow into it. There are four main woodwind instruments in the orchestra: the flute, the clarinet, the oboe and the bassoon. To these four instruments, we can add a few cousins such as the piccolo which is a small flute, the cor anglaise (English horn), which resembles an oboe but produces a deeper sound, the bass clarinet, which as its name suggests will have a deeper sound than the clarinet or the contrabassoon which also has a lower pitch than the bassoon.

The brass section

Here again, one must blow to make a sound but this time into a brass instrument. Another common feature with these instruments is that one does not blow into a mouthpiece but rather, into a cupped metal rim which ends in a funnel-shaped bell. Again, there are four instruments in this family: the trumpet, the horn, the slide trombone and the tuba.

The percussions

These instruments are positioned behind the other musicians. To make a sound, one must strike (percuss) with a variety of batons and sometimes even with the hands. A percussionist must be versatile in order to play both a snare drum and the xylophone or cymbals in the same piece of music. Conversely, the timpanists (the musicians who play the kettledrums) only play the part reserved for them in the score.

History of the Orchestra

The history of the Lorraine National Opera Orchestra dates back to June 27, 1884 when Edouard Brunel, Director of the newly created Conservatory of Music, gave a concert with the institution’s teachers in the grand reception room of Nancy’s City Hall.

Under the impetus of Joseph-Guy Ropartz, who had become Director of the Conservatory, and Albert Carré, the then Director of the Opera, a season of symphonic concerts were organised which from 1889 onwards were given at the Salle Poirel, a venue specifically built for that purpose.

At its creation, the Orchestra was known as the Nancy Conservatory Orchestra and it played host to some of the great soloists of the era: Eugène Ysaye, Alfred Cortot...

In 1979, Jérôme Kaltenbach replaced the Conservatory’s director Noël Lancien at the head of the orchestra. It then became independent from the Conservatory and it took on its dual mission as a symphonic and lyrical orchestra. Henceforth it became known as the Symphonic and Lyrical Orchestra of Nancy.

Since then, in addition to the international tours that have taken the Orchestra to Italy and Bulgaria, a number of prestigious soloists have performed with it, including Christian Zaccharias, Bruno Léonard Gelber, Montserrat Caballe, Gundula Janowitz, Salvatore Accardo, Natalia Gutman, Alicia de Larrocha, and Brigitte Engerer. It has also been led by talented guest conductors like Woldemar Nelsson, Manuel Rosenthal, Stephan Kovacevitch, Armin Jordan, Heinz Wallberg, Louis Langrée, Evelino Pido, Christian Arming, Juraj Valcuha, and Kirill Karabits.

In September 1999, Sebastian Lang-Lessing took over as the Orchestra’s Musical Director. He was succeeded by Paolo Olmi on September 1, 2006 who remained in the post until 2010. Tito Muñoz was then appointed to lead it from 2011 to 2013.

Rani Calderon, the principal guest conductor of the 2014-2015 season, assumed the mantle of Musical Director from 2015 to 2018.

In 2019, the Orchestra changed its name and became the Lorraine National Opera Orchestra.


The Orchestra has made numerous recordings, including:

  • Opera arias with Laurence Dale
  • Concertos by Marius Constant’s (Victoire de la Musique 1991)
  • Mélodies with orchestra and diverse works by Henri Duparc, with Françoise Pollet (Diapason d’Or)
  • Works for chorus and orchestra by Joseph-Guy Ropartz under the baton of Michel Piquemal
  • Works for orchestra and mélodies by Manuel Rosenthal.
  • Chausson’s Viviane, Symphonie, Poème pour violin.
  • Théodore Gouvy’s Electre, with Françoise Pollet, Michaelm Myers and Cécile Eloir under the direction of Pierre Cao
  • Works by the composer Cristian Carrara: Magnificat Ondanomala, Suite per bicicletta e orchestra with the pianist Carlo Guaitoli and Vivaldi: in mémoriam, under the direction of Flavio Emilio Scogna; released as a CD in October 2015 on the Brilliant Classics label

See also