Germany – Serbia




Münich : 15/17 june

This tour follows on from an initial trip here in 2005 where we played in the same festival.

The Tollwood Festival takes place in a park in the middle of Munich. It's an alternative festival whose organisers have refused all state subsidies so as to remain independent. The programme is extremely varied (rock music, street theatre, dance). It's an opportunity for thousands of Germans to stroll around the park and enjoy shows which are almost all free of charge.

It's a very special moment for us since we've come here to perform our show 'The Threepenny Ring Cycle', based on Wagner's operas. This is the very place where the operas were first performed, in the nineteenth century. We're a bit worried about possible negative reactions: our interpretations of Wagner have turned out to have strong Yiddish elements.

We are very well looked after from the moment we arrive ; the accommodation is excellent and Carolina Von Halt, the main festival organiser, treats us like kings.

We have a clause in our contract which stipulates that in case of rain, we'll only be paid half our fee. And of course it pours down on the first evening. Impossible to play the show.

Since there are some members of the audience who've turned up, and since we're all set up to perform, we decide to play a few extracts. Other performers have also sought refuge in the dressing room (a small tent). Things soon liven up since the thirty or so audience huddled together in the tent creates a very intimate atmosphere. We do a short (20 minute) version of the show, completely improvised and highly energetic.

The next day we decide to play twice during the day in order to make up the money lost on the previous evening. There's a large audience who are out to have a good time. It's very warm, with temperatures of 32°C. Last night's audience have come back to see the full show. Everything goes very well; the audience is hugely enthusiastic and they understand all the mythological references, as well as seeming to know the opera off by heart. We end the performance completely exhausted.

The last show is more sedate and with a smaller audience. Here we must give a special mention to our super-fan Franck, who managed to come to all the performances (having done the same thing in 2005).

Since this was the fiftieth performance of the show, we celebrate the event in a typical Bavarian watering-hole. I come across a magnificent Bavarian wind-band and watch surfers in the park...


Belgrade : 21 june

The planned tour has had to be cancelled due to a shortfall in the budget and in the end we play only once, on the day of the fête de la musique , the annual French music festival. We've been invited to the French Cultural Centre of Belgrade (CCF) by the assistant director, Matthieu Bardiaux. It's the second time he's programmed us (we went to Budapest in 2003 when he was working at the local CCF).

The idea is that we do a walkabout show in front of the Cultural Centre in the very busy pedestrianised street. This fête de la musique event is a collaboration between the CCF and the DOB Cultural Centre, Belgrade's biggest cultural institution.

Our Yugoslavian hosts are very hospitable and take us to local restaurants where we eat delicious grilled meat.

Come the day of the performance it's suffocatingly hot. Luckily, the dressing rooms are air-conditioned...

A tightly packed crowd forms around us. We're performing just after an African group. The principle behind our show ('La Baronnade') is that we conceal our opera singers within the town (in a café, or at a window) and then surprise the audience. The audience catches on quickly and people really enjoy the show.

In the evening the director of the DOB pays us a wonderful compliment. He says he's had a rotten day at work, but seeing us give so much pleasure to so many people has given him enough energy to get through the rest of the week.

The day ends with us going out to a gypsy night-club on the edge of Belgrade. The club is actually a boat which is moored on the Danube and in the background is the constant croaking of toads. The atmosphere is just incredible. It's probably fair to say that Kusturica didn't make anything up !

Thanks to all this touring (6 different countries visited between May and July 2007: Germany, England, Belgium, Holland, Bahrain and Yugoslavia) we have several offers for new international projects :

-there's a tour to Mexico planned for April 2008, to go to the Zapopum festival in Guadalajara.

-there's a possibility of dates in Germany (Mayence) in the springtime of 2008

- we have been commissioned by the Barbican Centre in London to work on a street show with a local community near the centre in 2009.

Sincere thanks to all those organisations which have supported this project : Cultures France, la DRAC Centre and le Conseil Régional Centre.




"La Strada" Festival – 3rd to 6th August 2011

Shows: "Un Roi Arthur" and "La Baronnade"


We had already been to the La Strada festival in Graz in 2009. It's a festival which stays very loyal to companies and may often programme them several times in succession. Some companies play as often as 5 times. After La Baronnade, this time it was Un Roi Arthur which had been chosen. The festival director (Werner Schrempf) is a very original character: very discreet (you never see him till the last day) and with some highly inventive ideas on how to run a festival.

We were to play Un Roi Arthur and La Baronnade 3 times each.


Un Roi Arthur : 4th to 6th August 2011

We are extremely well received and that's nice: good hotel, great food, impeccable staff. The festival even provides the 8 Grooms with bikes. Our Argentinian assistant is extremely efficient and friendly.

Graz is a magnificent 18th century town full of sumptuous indoor courtyards which are perfect for street performance. We had come across our perfect space when we were here in 2009. The Vendaval company were performing there at the time. It's the seminary courtyard, right in the centre of town. The space is sumptuous and has a wonderful acoustic.

There's a lot of pressure since the audience will be paying 20 euros each. We have to be good!

There was heavy rain just before our arrival and shows had to be cancelled. The whole summer it has been as if we were playing between showers, and it looked as if that would again be the case.

Our countertenor Antoine Le Roux has finally given up trying to make a career out of singing and is set to return to his previous job in the world of law. These are his last dates before going back to the office. As a result, he's in fantastic form and manages to transmit that energy to us. The atmosphere is excellent despite us being very tired after constant touring and rehearsals in March.

Our audience is big and very enthusiastic.

Since we are performing in a seminary, it's logical that the bells ring out for a total of 8 minutes just at the beginning of the show. Luckily, our 25 years of experience of improvisation save us and we are able to turn the situation to our advantage.

The performances go well. The Austrian audience is worth its weight in gold; they join in with everything, a really great audience. They know their classical music and are really up for enjoying themselves.

We even manage to break our record for the sale of our CD's and posters.

It's very nice for us to perform away from traffic, to have a calm atmosphere so we can really set things up well, and to be able to hear each other play.


La Baronnade : 3rd, 5th and 6th August 2011

We perform this show 3 times, and the conditions are really different on each occasion.

-On the first day we go to Stainz, a small town in the countryside about 30 km from Graz. The whole festival goes there just for the day. Other foreign companies are programmed at the same time as us. We check out the performance sites on arrival but then we learn that our planned route has not been approved by the director. We have to change plans completely. The heat is suffocating and we're very tired...And 2 of our singers are performing this show for the first time. There's a certain amount of tension in the dressing room. Just as we start it rains, then suddenly stops after 5 minutes.

Luckily, the big audience gives us the energy to overcome our fatigue. Our singer Antoine Le Roux copes brilliantly and gives a magnificent rendition of a Handel air...

In the end everyone is pleased with the performance.

Then we're not too happy since nothing has been organised for our after-show meal. And then on the return journey the bus driver forgets some people and we have to go back, which takes 30 minutes. Then there's a huge storm and the entrance-hall of the hotel is under water...

-On the 5th August we accept an invitation to participate in Michel Risse's sound installation (he's from the company Décor Sonore). It runs 24 hours a day and is set up on a very busy square in the town. It involves sounds generated by synthesisers and machines while other artists are invited to add a further dimension. The idea is that the other artists don't draw attention to themselves but rather dissolve into the urban landscape. We are scheduled at midnight when the square is almost deserted. We do some very discreet sound improvisations on the edges of the square and then come together in the middle. Michel Risse directs us by making large gestures ("mimophonie"), and passers-by are intrigued. The results are mixed but it's nevertheless very interesting research. Jean-Marie Songy (director of the Aurillac festival) even makes a special trip from Paris to see this work....

-On the last day, we go to perform in a small mountain village for children with cancer. It's a benefit evening designed to raise funds for the children's care. The director of the festival in person comes along with us. We have a long discussion with him regarding his way of working and his tastes in street theatre. He says that he fights every year to programme the company Kkuète, who walk around town naked and carry coffins which end up in shops or in the back of garbage trucks. He feels that the town needs this kind of potentially shocking performance. He doesn't go to the Aurillac festival because he doesn't want to be seen to support a festival which doesn't respect the performers.

The atmosphere is a little strange; the audience is quite elderly and they're sitting in this gloomy space expecting a 'real' show. We haven't prepared anything special...we intended that our performance would be more or less improvised. Our soprano is dressed up as a waitress and our countertenor pretends to be the evening's special guest. In fact, the audience is more than ready to participate and have fun, and in the end we go down very well!!!

After the show, the director generously invites us out to dinner...

We organise a serenade for the diners. It's our last evening, and we're happy to mark it in this way!

Once again, a huge thank-you to the French Institute without whom this wonderful series of dates wouldn't have been possible.

We hope to return to Austria soon. We're in touch with someone already for Vienna in 2012...


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