Raphaël Sanchez


What was your biggest artistic achievement prior to joining Cirque du Soleil?

My ten-year artistic collaboration with Annie Fratellini (Cirque Fratellini, Paris) as composer and music director

Please tell us about your artistic background previous to joining Cirque:

Composer for movies, theatre and traditional circus (Annie Fratellini)
Conductor for many productions including, Les Miserables, Cats, Chicago, Hello Dolly, 42nd Street and Les Ballets de Monte-Carlo
Conductor, arranger and/or orchestrator for many movie soundtracks, albums and other experimental projects
Pianist with a strong classical background, I also play jazz, fusion, and traditional music like Argentinean tango

  • Raphaël Sanchez
  • France
  • Music Conductor
When did you join Cirque du Soleil?

November 2004.

What was your first contact with the organization? What was the context?

I met the Cirque casting/scouting team in Paris while they were auditioning singers.

What kind of an experience was your audition and/or training and/or workshop?

I didn’t really do an “audition": I gave Cirque a DVD of my work and they called me a few months later for Varekai. They sent me the DVD of the show and a CD with 4 songs on which I was to record some keyboard parts.

How did your integration go in Montreal and in the show?

It went very fast. I spent 3 days in Montreal learning make-up, getting fit for my costume, having meetings with the composer and the artistic director, finalizing my contract and getting up to speed on administrative procedures. Then I flew directly to Dallas, TX where Varekai was performing for its last 10 days with its former bandleader Michel Cyr. The artists, the coaches and the technical team were very helpful and I’d like to thank them for their kindness.

How does being part of a Cirque du Soleil show allow you to express yourself in your discipline?

After more than 850 performances of Varekai I still feel the same as when I began 30 months ago. Every show is a “Premiere" that requires the same awareness, sensitivity and energy…

What do you like the most about being part of Cirque du Soleil?

The quality of everyone’s involvement… from all the “dreamers" and performers, to the amazing support staff: technical, logistics, wardrobe, concessions, administration, Tour services, Food & beverages, Information technology, VIP, carpentry, rigging, schooling, kitchen, security, cleaning, etc. I am part of an amazing team!

If we could collect and transform the energy that everyone gives on Varekai into electricity, we could light a city!

How did the transition go between your former career to your current Cirque career?

For me to have to concentrate my energy on one only project was kind of new and almost scary! My former career was very eclectic… in a typical day I could be conducting a recording session in the morning, rehearsing with a traditional tango orchestra in the afternoon, conducting a theatre show in the evening and finally composing, or writing arrangements and orchestrations for my next project at night!

Fortunately, given the complexity of the show, the interaction between departments during the show and the fact that there are plenty of adjustments to do all the time, my role as bandleader keeps me really busy!

Why would you recommend an artist to join Cirque?

It is a very unique experience you’ll never forget.

How is life on tour / in Las Vegas / in Orlando?

“Intense" doesn’t begin to describe it, but traveling with my family makes a big difference compared to everything I knew before. I’ve never had so much time with them!

Also, I’d like to mention that Cirque provides schooling for the children on tour with the best teachers, better than we could have ever dreamed of. In the past 18 months my son has learned English, is learning Russian and taking lessons in juggling and acrobatics.