Black, everything is black. The stage of the Théâtre des Champs-Élysées, the silhouette of Gérard Depardieu, the beauty of Barbara’s texts. The myth of French cinema enters the scene under a halo of light, in the smoke of a projector, the atmosphere of the Parisian stages of another era. We hear his heavy breathing into the microphone, the words and texts heavy with emotion, by Monique Andrée Serf, known as Barbara, dying of grief in 1997. Those to whom Depardieu has been faithful since the 1980s.
“I wrote a letter”
This Sunday night, for his third and last date at the Théâtre des Champs-Élysées, the veteran of French cinema debates in front of a packed room of 1,900 people. Of course, the date was complete. And like the other three, his team was suspended due to the news of the war in Russia: in order for it to have been produced, the Théâtre des Champs obtained a press release from the friend of the Russian president, in which he states that ” the Russian people are not responsible for the crazy and unacceptable excesses of their leaders as Vladimir Putin. All proceeds from the three concerts I offer at the Théâtre des Champs-Élysées will go to the Ukrainian victims of this tragic fratricidal war. ».
During the performances on Friday and Saturday, Gérard Depardieu did not even try to play the part of a diplomat, explaining: ” HaveI had to apologize for the theater because they couldn’t stand it, so I wrote him a letter », modifying a couplet of Göttingen to evoke the suffering of the children of Mariupol, making fun of ” This people “, whose ” they are afraid, they have a beautiful place “, also thanking” all but fearful staff “. This Sunday, he was more modest, suggesting only a ” permission to come here “, and passing, the one who was baptized in 2020, for the belief in God to go to the Ukrainians.
the beautiful darkness
The room did not want to dwell on the political Depardieu anyway. Rather in the singer of Depardieu, doing -as always in these representations- at times the beautiful part of the actor of Depardieu. When the actor’s power makes the singer shout a rhyme and releases the telluric power of Barbara’s verses. When, on the notes of his partner Gérard Daguerre, the ever-icon pianist, he recites these texts between the pieces, which are his. In which one always wonders if he is not also the one who speaks. Anyone who has heard Depardieu sing Barbara several years ago will have felt that a part of the rage and anger has crept into these 2022 performances.
And then comes the introduction of the magnificent Drouot before the power of his In the wicker baskets of the auction room… » : « No, I’m not a grand lady of song, I’m not a black tulip, I’m not a poet, I’m not a bird of prey, I’m not desperate from morning to night, I’m not a praying mantis, I don’t live in black curtains I am not an intellectual, I am not a heroine, I am a woman… who sings. » A woman… who sings and comes to life after each applause, each alternation of the play of lights -sometimes vertical, sometimes red, sometimes bays-, a scenic modesty so that Gérard better disappears behind the imaginative force of an audience that closes its eyes when the mythical ones follow one another black sunmimosa island, LonelinessWhere Nantes.
It’s time to Tell me, when will you come back? start to sing. Why is Gérard Depardieu’s, moreover, so haunted, inhabited, standing four pieces from the end and crying as soon as the sound Göttingen ? Because no one has carried on the work of a music legend after his death like he did with Barbara. He did not know how to immerse himself in the exercise of an art – music – in the name of the love of a singer with whom she rubbed elbows, in order to give better life both to his cult and to the beauty of his music. Gérard Depardieu has a hoarse voice, that of a cinema legend, recognizable among a thousand, but it is not insulting to say that he would have fought to make a career in this one alone. And yet he rose to the heights of art, then pushed his life force and creative force out of deference to Barbara. From there, he invented a way of singing, between pure recital and staging, where you get to hear both a disappeared singer -the number of historical admirers of Bárbara present in the room- and a great actor.
Not in vain Gérard Depardieu passes the spirit of Bárbara could not be better with the sweet sadness of the fans. Life stuck the same bitterness in her coat, where she received the same blows to the liver, to cultivate the same brilliant spleen, the same luminous darkness. Which in turn radiates to an audience that is intoxicated with ” the melancholy itself ». « There is nothing more beautiful than trying to be the interpreter of others. says Depardieu through Barbara, about Brel and Brassens. The fact is that he also speaks on his behalf. ” The talent ? I don’t even know if I have one. he said for a moment. With that air of an unhappy giant who insists on wallowing in the mud in public, that mockery of himself to “show off” better, like when he explains that he keeps a teleprompter because ” bored on stage “, and that makes you feel like” Watch TV “. When he tells an anecdote, during a concert, when she refused to give in to an encore, and he forced her to hurry up because he ” I was hungry ».
And then this slap inflicted by love. When Depardieu takes up Barbara’s words and this sumptuous tragedy of unrequited love that is When will you return? : « It is normal that we are afraid of losing a love, but it is also normal that we move away so as not to drown that love. This love is very close to me, we traveled together very recently. I don’t feel lack or sorrow. “There is something terrible in seeing an audience, him, feel the lack and sorrow when Depardieu vanishes, and the ghost of Barbara. That night, a spectator on the balcony, as if possessed by the myth that he had before his eyes, took the room in the arms of the body, humming the melody of for a cantata. And he took Depardieu and Daguerre by surprise, who had to return, for one last memory of When will you return? with the whole public, a choral communion. And this last direct address to the Black Eagle: Sing my angel, sing my beauty, sing again, on your mimosa island, where you are already queen. You have calmed my soul, sing my love again, sing to me love, sing to me the strength to live, help me, make me cry… Sing my angel, sing Barbara, I love you. »