INTERVIEW – The director will meet Gaétan Jarry this season for The Abduction from the Seraglio given in French, two years after their triumph in George Dandin by Molière and Lully. Meeting with a lyricophile actor.
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?
Michel FAU. – This place remains one of the most inspiring places I have ever worked. The first time I discovered it, I was a teenager. I never would have imagined putting on operas there. Even less titles of Molière or Rameau. At the same time, it’s not just a showcase. It is a place that must be considered because it has a strong architectural and historical presence. He does work.
Does it 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 large for 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 as a TV movie. I regret that theater is today so loud. Marie Bell and Jean Marais played in the open air without a microphone. They could fill the Orange theatre. This forced them to surp themselves.
After staging Cosi fan tutte And Bastien and Bastiennehow 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 afterwards 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.
You just staged Zemire and Azor de Grétry, who also fantasizes the 18th century Oriente century. How will you treat orientalism?
For Grétry, orientalism is only a pretext. Mozart, he makes it the main subject. It remains a fantasy of the 18th centurye with its gaps 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 follower historical reenactments nor a fan of modern transposition. There will be no washing machines or mental asylums. 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.
Of Beautiful Helene has Wozzeckping through this Kidnapping, 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 which on paper seem poles apart. Like when I did Elektra After Beautiful Helene. 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.