How did your collaboration on Cantique des Oiseaux start?
She contacted me after she found my translation of the Cantique des Oiseaux at Éditions Diane de Selliers.
Tell us about the libretto of this opera
It’s a libretto based on the spiritual masterpiece of Fariduddin ‘Attar. Each page contains precious spiritual teachings on life and the path of Love. The poem tells of birds, metaphors of the soul, who leave in search of Simurgh, a mythical and majestic king bird, the object of their desire. Since I had already translated it into French (from Alexandrian), I went from the French text by selecting the main elements of the storyline and the dialogue between certain birds and the Hooppoe, which plays the role of the guide. Based on the « personality » of each bird, we decided to have each one sing in a certain voice.
How do you work with the composer?
We regularly call one another to adapt the text to the voices and instruments.
What are the challenges in writing a contemporary opera libretto?
It’s adapting a classical text and a « traditional » poetic universe, and in our case an « oriental » one, to the modern aesthetic. Since the text is surprisingly topical on the spiritual side, in reality, it’s a bit strange at the start, but it is not that difficult. In contrast, the music helps highlight this timeless modernity.
Your favourite instrument?
The human voice.
Last favourite for a record, show, exhibition, series or film?
It’s already an old film, but I have just discovered it: The Hours, by Stephen Daldry, the music, which is amazing, is by Philip Glass!
An excerpt of LE CANTIQUE DES OISEAUX will be presented at Oper’Actuel – Works in progress 2019.