Starmania: an old-school rock opera by Thomas Jolly

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Boulogne-Billancourt. The musical seine. 13-11-2022. Michel Berger (1947-1992): Starmania, a rock opera to an essay by Luc Plamondon. Director: Thomas Jolly. Scenography: Emmanuel Favre. Costumes: Nicolas Ghesquière. Choreography: Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui. With: Gabrielle Lapointe (Crystal); William Cloutier (Johnny Roquefort); Mane Mariam Baghdasaryan (Sadia); David Latulipe (January zero); Mag (Stella Spotlight); Alex Montembolt (Mary Jane); Adrian Frutt (Ziggy); Malika Lacy (Gouraud-Marabout). Music direction: Victor Le Massen

For its fourth French appearance, Michel Berger’s opera debut returns impressively at La Seine Musicale. What if this is still not enough?

“It’s not a musical!” insisted Michel Berger, the cantor, against all odds and all, of French opera rock. Thomas Jolly was, of course, the composer. Starmania Inspiring an all-around success (an endless melodic well, recitatives included) there is effectively no envy of the much vaunted Anglo-Saxon model hitherto. Returning all its place to the excellent libretto by Luc Plamondon, his version is the darkest, most hopeless one we have yet seen. Its Orwellian screens, its terrorists (the Black Stars) smashing their heads with a bat, and its dipped Nazi colors (white, red, black, evil memory) are as unsettling as can be. In the end everyone dies, even Mary Jane, a sympathetic witness to the disaster in the making.

Son of Annette Haas, a classical pianist who played with a certain Poulenc Concerto for pianoMichael Berger wrote his first piano concerto mystery, Before becoming the most famous songwriter of the late 20th century. The sadness that can be detected in each of his 307 songs also said how attentive the star remained to a world that prevented him from answering in the affirmative when asked if he was happy. When Starmania Created in 1979 in the Palais des Congrès, we did not yet know that some mediums, not content with playing with souls, would intervene in the intimacy of bodies; It is not yet known that the businessman will become the “chief of the West.” We also didn’t know that another president would marry a singer… Starmania Put it all into words and music. With a TV star kidnapped by a terrorist, in a nuclear-threatening world tempted by submission, Starmania While advocating regress and sexual freedom, it made the depressing observation of everyone’s existential loneliness. Once preliminary. Today is necessary. Immortal, therefore.

The 2022 (2h30) version restores, with its redesign, the 1979 version (2h10) directed by Tom O’Horgan, from which it takes a few numbers like No. 1988 (1h50), directed by Michel Berger and Luc Plamondon, up. Every new version of Starmania Discover new sounds. Good choice again. Malika Lacy’s very trusty Guru-Marabout revives this key character in the original release and appropriately references a brood still ambushed in the year 2022. David Latulippe’s Zero Janvier shows the chilling horror of its elders. Her Stella Spotlight (Maag), revisited in Céline Dion, is measured with aplomb by the crack and stratospheric treble of Diane Dufresne. In keeping with the scenic option, William Cloutier’s Johnny Roquefort doesn’t aspire to the die-hard sympathy of Daniel Balavoin, but can only prevent the heart-breaking triplet. SOS A landowner in distress Don’t touch the heart. Manet Myriam Baghdasarian’s rugged Sadia looks very symmetrical in a costume designed for her by Nicolas Ghesquière, as does Thomas Joly’s superficial reading of this enigmatic character. Alex Montembault’s Adrien Fruit unleashed Ziggy and more Marie-Jeanne the perfect embodiment, in gray overalls topped with an elegant white bolero, of cosmopolitan gloom. Finally, Crystal Gabrielle Lapointe, also orchestrated by the appetite for decibels in the vogue of televsion quizzes (from StarmaniaWell, well) Born at the dawn of the year 2000, he remembers how irreplaceable was and still is the drawn-out voice of France Gall. The singer who died in 2018 inspires Thomas Jolie with one of the best ideas for her theater from abroad: to appear, on Mary Jane TV, for the creator of the role, singing the few sentences of Monopolis which precedes the astronomical and dizzying passage where I asked her with an opposite triplet, is an apex still superior in sentiment to that ofOpening Silhouette jumping Michelle Berger on the piano.

Arranged in the lawn and courtyard below the stage, the orchestral staff reintroduces the acoustic piano (the 1988 version was highly industrialized), giving pride of place to guitars and drums. Victor Le Massen provides musical direction. A week before the premiere, we’re surprised the potentiometer is still pushed downward, distorting more than one place for sonic identities and orchestrations. whether child from pollution In the spring of such treatment, it is not the same with percussion at all because it is irresistible They drive us crazy. In the heart of this bustling context, we savor the pristine waters of rare oases such as A boy like no other, which Alex Montembolt sings while accompanying himself on acoustic guitar. Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui’s dances exude a beautiful energy, and perhaps the most memorable moment is the appearance on Zighy’s slope as he heads through the smoke bombs. Emmanuelle Favre’s decor revolves around two elements: a huge, colossal star (Les Étoiles Noires, but also the obsession with the star system) dismounted up a few revolving stairs that make up a café, mansion, and nightclub; A few sliding shafts regularly shifted by the light we entrusted the leading role. Where have you seen such a group of members? Countless sideshows on four levels, on the ramp, around the perimeter of the stage frame, and even out of the ground like an anti-aircraft battery: it’s a veritable army of beams that sculpt the space unrelenting or lacking in inspiration.


However, the collective hypnosis generated by so much visual fireworks fails to silence great regret. When we learned that Thomas Jolly had named Rafael Hamburger (son of Michel Berger and Frans Gall) to be the new project manager StarmaniaWe’ve been betting for two years (the show should have seen the light of day in the fall of 2020) that the inspiring director who rejuvenated Shakespeare and Marivaux in theatre, Offenbach and Cavalli in opera, would be the one to finally stage a real staging of this opera that was Michel Berger. , on the eve of his untimely death in 1992, he’s still working on exporting it, which, until the release of Louis Faure’s Hideous in 1994, almost doomed it to a masked party format. Singers on the stoop, the microphone as a hand on the heart: what we don’t accept anymore in opera, why don’t we get mad at this Starmania Which does not stand out in this regard from previous versions? Simple high frequency microphones allow us to play rather than just sing. Agreeing with Michels, Berger (“It’s not a musical!”) and Bernholk (his brilliant symphony arranger at the time), let’s push it further: “And if, with his fine manners and great music, Starmania, wasn’t it just a rock opera?” And if, like West Side StoryWhich Bernstein revised in this sense, why Starmania Won’t she be a real Oprah one day… maybe next?

Image credits: © Anthony Dorfman

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Boulogne-Billancourt. The musical seine. 13-11-2022. Michel Berger (1947-1992): Starmania, a rock opera to an essay by Luc Plamondon. Director: Thomas Jolly. Scenography: Emmanuel Favre. Costumes: Nicolas Ghesquière. Choreography: Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui. With: Gabrielle Lapointe (Crystal); William Cloutier (Johnny Roquefort); Mane Mariam Baghdasaryan (Sadia); David Latulipe (January zero); Mag (Stella Spotlight); Alex Montembolt (Mary Jane); Adrian Frutt (Ziggy); Malika Lacy (Gouraud-Marabout). Music direction: Victor Le Massen

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