In the spring of 2016, I was called by stage director Eric Petitjean, who was looking for a cellist capable of improvising, composing, and acting for his new theatre production. The task was challenging, but by that moment, I already had some experiences in improvising with jazz musicians in Parisian bars. The perspective to act on stage like an actress was exciting. So, I started having sessions with Eric and actress Cassandre Vittu, who would become my partner in crime.
During the next few months of work, Cassandre was reading the text, I was playing along, and Eric was exploring ideas for my cello. The most interesting part of this process was working like a dramatic actor, looking for emotional state, for the story behind the character, and then converting it to some musical text. In the end, I didn’t compose the music to accompany Cassandre’s spoken text, but my own musical text that functioned in dialogue with her. I was a real character of the play; feeling and living my story on stage.
This piece, called Rosa, is a compilation of two plays by French playwright Samuel Gallet: Reanimation and Oswald de nuit. The first part of Rosa tells the story of two sisters. The elder one is an adult with her own family and a stable life. The younger one, Rosa, is a teenager who wants to change the world. The piece starts when the elder sister comes to Athens to search for Rosa, who has disappeared there during the anti-European protests. The elder almost knows from the beginning that Rosa will not be found, so all the text is a sort of post-factum reconciliation between the two sisters, between acceptance of the world as it is, with its silent conveniences and imperfections, and the radical protest against it. The second part of the piece is a manifest of hope and the beauty of life..
The piece was premiered on Rencontres Théâtrales du Val d'Amour Festival in June 2016. Here are the photos from the stage.
The clip below was made a year after the premiere; it's not related to the play anymore but gives the music it's second life, independently form the theater piece:
Once I was introduced to Emmanuelle Cordoliani, an extremely curious and open-minded French playwright, stage director, and actress. She asked me if I would be tempted to join a group of musicians, actors, a composer, and a playwright. I accepted without hesitation.
Thus began Chambre bleue, our interdisciplinary troupe, made in the model of the Marquise de Rambouillet 17th century musical and literary salons, where artists of all sorts met each other to speak about art and to collaborate.
The first production of the Chambre bleue is a musical tale, The Beast and the Beauty, where the well-known tale is told from the Beast’s point of view. The piece was based on one of the oldest versions of the tale, written by Madame de Villeneuve, which posed and discusses questions like: What is real beauty? What is in the origin of Love?
The artistic interest of the project is that it's a piece for four players: three musicians and one actress. All four are equal and tell the story together. The harpist, the flutist, and the cellist, are not accompanying the text but perform in dialogue, reacting and provoking it.
The three musicians of the project were also challenged to sing and act together while playing - with a small choreographed scene by yours truly.
The piece was premiered with Chloé Ducray on harp, Anastasie Lefevre on flute, me on cello. Bénédicte Lesenne was the reciter. Music has been composed by Romain Dumas.The libretto, lights and staging are the artwork of Emmanuelle Cordoliani
Below you can find the video and here are some photos from the first presentation of the piece in Paris on March 23, 2018.
IRCAM is a Parisian institution that supports composers in their experiments with electronic music. Every year, they host an educational curriculum called the Cursus, with a final concert during the ManiFeste comtemporary music festival in Paris.
This year, there was an American composer named Scott Rubin, who wanted to write a piece for cello, motion-sensitive live electronics, and… a dancer!
As always in the projects I take part, he didn’t want a musician to simply support the dancer with some background sound, he wanted an interaction.
In the piece, called in tensions, the musician and the dancer are improvising in parallel or in dissonance. The work consists of four parts in which the relationship between the performers evolves, often leaving the audience guessing. In the first part, they act in parallel. In the second, the dancer comes to play the cellist’s body as an instrument. In the third, they separate and play independently. In the last part, the cellist leaves the cello (oh my god!) and comes to the dancer to play her body as if it would be a cello. In the end of the piece, we don’t know anymore who leads and who follows.
Here is Scott's own description and analysis of the project:
In the beginning we worked together and created the first esquisse with a contemporary dancer Alice Boivin, then it was Marie Albert who replaced her for the premiere.
The piece was played on the ManiFeste festival at Centquatre in Paris. Look up the photos here and the video is below:
In August 2018 I've lounched a new experimental project called @bored_cellist, where I sing various, mostly jazz, songs while accompaniyng myself on cello.
Have a look at the special Instagram page: https://www.instagram.com/bored_cellist/