Marion Cotillard: "Being Joan of Arc is a difficult challenge – but I love it"
from El Periódico (Spain) / by Marta Cervera
The Oscar-winning French actress Marion Cotillard will play Joan of Arc in the Auditori on November 17 and 18 along with the OBC. She will portray the protagonist of Arthur Honegger imposing oratorio Jeanne au Bûcher (Joan of Arc at the Stake), a fascinating piece of great drama, which the actress watched her parents play when she was a child. In the play, the French heroine remembers her life before she died accused of heresy.
You already participated in a production Orleans with the symphony orchestra of that city in 2005. It took a lot to convince?
For me it was a gift because I had seen my mother playing Joan of Arc when I was a girl, and my father was the brother Domenico. It was she who asked me to assume the role and I loved it. Playing Joan of Arc surrounded by a choir and an orchestra is a beautiful experience, unique.
Back then you weren’t as well known as an actress as now, after the Oscar win for your portrayal of Édith Piaf in La Vie en Rose.
But my interest in this work is still intact. It is a work that captivates me. After the two representations in Orleans I was eager to do it again. And I told Jean-Marc Cochereau, who directed me the first time. So when the project in Barcelona came up I did not hesitate. I am told that the OBC is a high quality symphony formation.
You’ll be surrounded by 82 musicians, led by Marc Soustrot, 100 singers from the choirs Lieder Camera, Madrigal and Vivaldi, more actors and soloists
It’s a real treat to participate in this impressive work. It’s why I’m so excited to do it again. It is a difficult challenge, but I love it. The life of Joan of Arc is very interesting. She died so young!
Her end was terrible and unfair. The same Church that condemned her to burn beatified her afterwards.
She lived at a time when a woman was considered a heretic or a witch for things unthinkable today. Joan had a vision that took her life. Her precipitated end at the stake made her a legend.
Will you need the music sheet?
I’d rather learn the text by heart because then it comes out differently, it’s much more believable.
What will your wardrobe be like? Is characterized as in the photo?
I don’t know yet. In Orleans I took the dress that my mother had used when she played the part. But I haven’t decided if I will use it again.
This oratorio was premiered in 1938, with a libretto by the poet Paul Claudel. Will it cause much impact today as then?
It can. It has an extremely modern writing. It is constructed of flashbacks and provokes many images. But not only that, the number of musicians involved generates a huge thrill. You have to live it.
What is the main difficulty?
I have to talk in a very particular way trying to articulate my voice in a completely natural manner, even when there is music playing. The pace has to be very clear so that the music does not drown out my words and, as I can’t accelerate or slow down the orchestra, my challenge is to match them.
You, who are also an actress and singer, have an advantage?
Certainly. If you have no sense of rhythm you can’t face this oratorio. Luckily, I have always had a good ear. Music is part of me.
In Barcelona, Ingrid Bergman starred as her in the Liceu in 1954 directed by Roberto Rossellini.
This piece is fascinating, out of the ordinary. It is not easy to categorize: neither theater nor opera. It’s very cinematic. It transmits a brutal force and engages.
Can you imagine playing Joan of Arc in a movie?
I would love to but I don’t know if it could overcome some of the existing films. It only makes sense to do a remake when it brings something really different to the table.
You’ve been living for a while in the U.S. but are now taking some months to stay in France. Will you settle in Europe?
I always like to go from here to there. I will go to the U.S. later this year. If I went back to Europe it’s because I wanted to be with my family and take a break. I’ve been here three months without work, apart from doing some promotion.
You come from a family of artists, yoour mother was an actress, your father a filmmaker. Does this help maintain the serenity despite fame?
No one is prepared for fame. Everyone faces it as we can and do the best we know. I try not to think about it. It is fortunate that there are people who believe in me and trust me with roles that I never imagined I would have a chance to play.