It is a question worth asking. It seems incredible.
Anyone who’s crazy about baroque music won’t be able to understand how you’re not at least crazy about Telemann.
I was starting all right, wasn’t I?
If Mozart was still part of baroque music, I had something to hold on to.
And then… I didn’t.
Mozart achieved “a synthesis of late baroque contrapuntal complexities and innovative forms influenced by, among others, the Bach sons and Haydn.” I’m reading this, my arms are falling off.
The advantage of baroque music is that it has crazy and extravagant lovers absolutely all over the world.
It’s completely useless to try to convince them to love this music: it’s done.
So it’s a matter of getting “pignoufs” back as I am.
“Pignouf” is a bad French word, which can identify a person who absolutely lacks class, elegance, good taste.
But that’s not the point: theatres are also there to turn wild boar into music lovers.
When my partners flooded me with their drafts of this music, they made it clear to me: this music is not classical at all.
It is not “licked”, it is not this monument of sad boredom that you are imagining. They know me well enough.
The whole problem comes from the relationship to early music, wrapped up in a big package called classical and supposed to be bored to tears when you don’t know it.
The fact that baroque music suffered, when it was young and alive, from all the criticism of unbearable old gentlemen may begin to interest the boar.
Obviously, that can’t be enough.
The differences in the relationship to the rhythm are so huge that you can tell all you want about the “follies” of the baroque, in the hall… nobody will believe you anymore.
Being a very common case of complete indifference to baroque music, I asked myself what it would take to seduce me.
I’m a basic person. I like stories. I like to understand. I like to see. It is therefore impossible for me, who has no memory of sounds, to follow more than 10 minutes of a concert where I am sitting.
So, to seduce me, you have to add at least a little bit of “understanding” to me.
I’m not talking about telling a story in addition to the concert. It would be “too much”.
But on the other hand – and all the technology allows it – associating light with sound helps to guide (little) minds like mine.
If you want, it would be a matter of having luminous ‘beaches’ like the ones created in the Sagrada Familia in Barcelona.
With every movement of the sun, the whole atmosphere of the cathedral changes.
Certain details left in the darkness appear – and then disappear again.
It’s quite magical – and all that’s missing is the music…
With this help… I can listen to and enjoy Telemann’s work.
All right : I started by cheating. The most famous baroque composer – and that even I managed to memorize and love – is Vivaldi.
If I program a Season of Vivaldi – and then I add a series of more, shall I say, confidential works / for an audience of discerning lovers – and that to these works I add visual abstract creations, I do not betray the baroque.
I’m commissioning this for the concert – and I’m completely in the spirit of Baroque commissions (it wasn’t spontaneous work), too.
Above all, I regularly program these works for “child and ignorant” that are :
The Great Music Caper, for child – and me. It’s a score and a story, which is meant to be on stage (and not in a cartoon – so it’s programmable).
Something like this then, to get the adults off their emotions :
And, of course, Peter & the Wolf, by Prokofiev : this is the wonderful version done by the Qatar Philarmonic.
This makes it possible to put in head and in heart the various instruments, the feelings which they cause, evoke.
Once these approaches are made, we can start programming on Baroque if we want to.
For example, it’s November, the days become shorter… we start to take stock of the year, we become melancholic.
Opening Winter by Vivaldi :
And once we start Winter, my goodness… continue – unannounced – with this…
Without warning, so you don’t have an avoidance strategy: Bach? No no no, thank you. On the other hand, everyone knows at least a few notes of this tune.
We can even consider blind tests, since this music is very often the basis of soundtracks for films and commercials.
And as a result, instead of being immaterial, centuries from now, and for a very strange kind of humans, this music becomes closer.
Since the show’s name and the amount of culture it implies play ‘against’ the show, it seems that imagining a device where, in the theatre, one chooses one’s place by ear – and not by title – would make it possible to attract an audience that is a little different from the ordinary.
And ..since the Baroque is the invention of the Opera… then we will inevitably play at the Opera – it’s “easy”, there are sets, stories, a whole context that keeps lazy minds alert.
It was almost easy to evoke baroque music for a theatre like Altair.
This allows us to show, detail after detail, what makes Altair special in relation to its audience: going after him is and must remain the major obsession.
Don’t give him just anything because it’s easier – and always try “a move to the side” – a move where we are not expected.
It’s always better.
Featured Image : Kim Novak in Vertigo . Kim’s relationship with baroque music? None that I know of. But if she had asked the question “Who doesn’t love…?”, everyone would have loved baroque music.
I didn’t do too badly on that challenge, did I ?