The stage of the Théâtre de l'Œuvre, in Paris, seems very narrow, on September 9, during the premiere of a new musical show, The Rabbi's Cat, inspired by the eponymous comic strip by Joann Sfar. In accordance with their tradition, the twelve instrumentalists of the Parisian Frivolities occupy the stage, leaving little room for the four singers called upon to embody very restless characters. But, like the famous tomcat who supervises the action from the top of a screen, they have the flexibility required to weave their way between cutouts of urban landscapes which, according to Nathalie Cabrol's video projections, will evoke Algiers, then Paris.
From the small world plunged by Joann Sfar into untold adventures, Pascal Neyron (author of the adaptation and the staging) has above all kept the existential questions. “If one can be happy without respecting the Torah, why follow precepts that complicate life? », se asks the rabbi, whose cat is a bit of a whipping boy. Hero of the comic strip, the latter is, of course, the protagonist of a plot with which he plays as with a ball of yarn. Accused of having eaten the parrot, he has a word that allows him to say everything, but which also prevents him from communicating with Zlabya, the rabbi's daughter, with whom he would like to spin the perfect love.
Pascal Neyron's work is especially perceptible in the rhythm of the lines, which hit the bull's eye at every opportunity and gradually integrate the room into fantasy, which comes on stage like a succession of numbers. Oldelaf's lyrics are of uneven quality, better in the parodic vein than in the natural expression. On the other hand, the music composed by Matthieu Michard impresses from start to finish with the ingenuity of its orchestration and the refinement of its harmonies. And even more by its ability to handle aesthetic references without ever appearing impersonal.
Walt Disney cartoons
Whether it is the oriental dimension invested in various forms (from a trio made up of small percussion instruments, an Arabic violin and an oud), the classical model of chamber music (string quartet in the style of Mozart during the exercise of dictation to which the rabbi must submit to keep his job) or the all-comers of yesterday's operetta and today's musical comedy, a genre in which The Rabbi's Cat obviously wants to register.
Let's dare to add Walt Disney cartoons. When Zlabya (Neïma Naouri, intense gaze and voice, with sound, of possible winner of The Voice) announces the arrival of the intimidating Malka of the lions, how not to see her in Yasmine d'Aladdin and not to hear in the music the accents of the triumphal entry of Prince Ali! Elsewhere, during a duet with her future husband (Sinan Bertrand, always impeccable), one would swear that she embodies one of the Ladies of Rochefort by Michel Legrand. This is where the score's only weakness lies. Matthieu Michard's melodies do not stay in the ear.
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