“The most rotten Marseillaise in history.” Just that. Former tennis player Julien Benneteau did not go with the back of the spoon when discussing the national anthem which rang out at the Stade de France on Friday, before the victory of the Blues against New Zealand at the opening of the World Cup (27-13). Sung by a choir in canon and by the whole public, without music or orchestra, the Marseillaise made people cringe. This was also the case with Irish and Italian anthems, among others.
Many Internet users shared their incomprehension on social networks. “Can’t we have the anthems sung normally please? The most important are the players... It's a unique moment!", complained Mirco Bergamasco, ex-Italian international passed by the French Stadium and Racing 92. "The project is to smash the anthems from all over the world?”, quipped the French Lose Federation on X (formerly Twitter).
The Squidge Rugby account compared the performance of the Irish anthem to “the soundtrack to a horror film”. The foreign press reported on it, such as the British newspaper Daily Mail and the Irish Sun. “Apart from the winner, the 2023 World Cup will be remembered as the one where the national anthems were butchered before the matches,” mocked one fan. But why such a disappointment?
For the 10th edition of the Men's Rugby World Cup, the anthems of the 20 participating nations are interpreted by children's choirs at the initiative of the World Cup Organizing Committee, the Ministry of Culture and the Ministry of National Education and Youth. In total, no less than 7,000 children, from CM1 to the final year, have been chosen and trained by Sarah Koné, conductor, and the educational team of the Popular Mastery of the Opéra-Comique, of which Koné is the director. The operation was called “the melee of choirs” and counts the singer Mika as godfather.
The problem is that the public... simply doesn't buy it. Despite a laudable and original approach, the lack of harmony between the supporters and the choir gives rise to a frustrating cacophony. Although this may vary from one hymn to another. “The Irish anthem lends itself better to high-pitched voices,” suspects a surfer on X. 26 choirs have been formed around the 9 cities which host World Cup matches. It was planned that each anthem would be sung live by the choir in question on the lawn.
But, as relayed by Radio Classique, for the sake of preserving the lawn, and because 7 of the 9 stadiums are not well enough equipped in terms of sound, the project has been abandoned. Or rather retouched: the choir was there for the opening match between France and New Zealand, and will be there again for the 8 matches of the final phase. For the other meetings, the anthem was recorded beforehand.
The question now arises: is it possible that the initiative will be interrupted in the middle of the competition? This is the wish of many fans, sorry for the children or not. The latter, whether they sing live or not, are invited to the stands for each match for which they have been associated. The next Marseillaise, which will ring out at the Pierre-Mauroy stadium in Lille during France-Uruguay on Thursday (9 p.m.), will be particularly scrutinized whatever happens.
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