LE FIGARO. - After Dardanus by Rameau in 2015, then George Dandin last year, is it still the same emotion to return to the Royal Opera?
Does he carry the spoken and sung voice as well as the imagination?
One does not go without the other. Its wooden structure gives it real acoustic qualities. And at the same time, it remains vast for the theater. It’s not any worse because it forces you to play bigger. To be more in style. We don't play Molière or Mozart like a TV movie. I regret that the theater today has so much sound. Marie Bell and Jean Marais played in the open air without a microphone. They could fill the ancient theater of Orange. This forced them to surpass themselves.
After directing Cosi fan tutte and Bastien et Bastienne, how do you approach this other Mozart that is The Abduction from the Seraglio?
With a lot of excitement. It was Gaétan Jarry who suggested it to me after our collaboration on George Dandin, and I immediately said yes. I dreamed of playing the role of Pasha. Above all, this work has always fascinated me in its construction. Mozart combines lightness and drama in a sublime way. Between this grotesque Osmine, and this absolutely tragic Constance.
Also read: Michel Fau: “At Molières, we no longer talk about theater, but about ecology and the CGT”
You have just staged Zémire et Azor by Grétry, who also fantasizes the 18th century Orient. How will you treat orientalism?
For Grétry, orientalism is only a pretext. Mozart makes it the main subject. It remains a fantasy of the 18th century with its shortcomings and its exaggerations. But the question of confinement and desire that the harem evokes is as universal as it is timeless.
How will you translate it?
I am neither a fan of historical reconstructions nor a fan of modern transposition. There will be no washing machine or psychiatric asylum. On the other hand, we worked with the decorator Antoine Fontaine, a specialist in theatrical machinery, on the idea of an infernal machine which locks people up. All in a universe that is more of a nightmare than reality.
From La Belle Hélène to Wozzeck, including this Abduction, you seem to cultivate the splits in opera. For what?
Whether in the theater or the opera, I have always liked doing different things. I'm always so afraid of repeating myself. And at the same time, I like to find connections between works that on paper seem poles apart. Like when I did Elektra after La Belle Hélène. Two radically opposed universes. But ultimately, it's the same story. I have no other filter than having something to say.
“The Abduction from the Seraglio”, from May 22 to 26 at the Royal Opera.