Overlooking the lovely Place Boeldieu, one of the three golden cherubs adorning the facade of the Opéra Comique raises a friendly hand. No doubt he greeted with a playful gesture the spectators finally back out of the confinement due to the Covid-19.
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Before the holidays are dispersed and after weeks of closure, like all theaters, the Salle Favart resumes for a few days a show as creaky as it is pleasant, The Horrifying cabaret, imagined by Valérie Lesort. The director and actress takes on board three accomplices: the soprano Judith Fa, the baritone Lionel Peintre and the pianist Marine Thoreau La Salle. Without forgetting a last minute “surprise guest” of whom we will obviously not say anything and a technical team with a thousand and one turns, just to “add a layer” of light and sound fright.
An “initiatory” journey
Guided by sympathetic cosmonauts dressed in black and helmets, the masked spectator follows a route marked out on the ground by macarons representing skulls: the tone is set, although softened by the champagne flute offered as a sign of welcome.
Worse (or better?), He now has to get around a bloody corpse to win the seats arranged on the stage, facing a red velvet curtain (1). Penumbra and smoke add their touch of mystery… which becomes poetry when the curtain rises, revealing the empty room, the harmony of its proportions, the graceful roundness of its Italian-style balconies, the indistinct mass of its extinguished chandelier. This point of view, so familiar to artists, is much less so for the public and alone deserves to be included in the Horrifying cabaret.
Walk among the specters
Straight out of Vampire Ball, the four performers joyfully launch their macabre dance for an hour and a quarter of songs and extracts from operas where terror, death, evil spirits and bones that collide take the lion’s share. We pass happily from Handel to Marie-Paule Belle, from Saint-Saëns to Rameau, from Boris Vian to Purcell and from Lloyd Webber to Kurt Weill.
Wearing a wig where a severed hand is stuck like a terrible trophy, Valérie Lesort distills sound effects (a fabric stretched by jerks to evoke the beating of the heart, a straw broom representing the crackling of flames), to which respond the voices of the singers and the notes of the piano (or the synthesizer). A game of massacre which also takes the unfortunate Marine Thoreau La Salle for a victim. She suffered the worst abuse from her “comrades” but was reborn, even more virtuoso, with admirable consistency!
A place for tenderness
However, the show is not just a parody of fairground attractions and reserves moments of emotion delicately set in all this grandiloquent. Judith Fa, who proves from start to finish the extent and ease of her vocal palette, dares to poignant half-tones in The Grand Lustucru by Kurt Weill; Lionel Painter shivers a Cold Air (King Arthur of Purcell) under a delicate rain of snow and solitude.
Integrating the sanitary accessories in force (masks and hydroalcoholic gel), the staging of Valérie Lesort uses with greed big strings of the fair theater or caricatures in an irresistible way those of the musical as of the lyric art. As such, the extract from Phantom of the Opera by Andrew Lloyd Webber, with plenty of glitter, hazardous choreography and eye rolls, deserves the kitsch medal. And we want more!