During a press conference Thursday morning at the Opera Garnier, Gérard Depardieu said performing at the Monte-Carlo Sporting Summer Festival on July 26 and 27 was “a great opportunity to go back in his career to his friendship with Barbara”.
L’aigle Noir, Nantes, Gottingen … just a few of the fourteen melancholic songs the French actor will sing as part of his tribute to his old singer-song writer friend Monique Serf, known simply as Barbara, who died in 1997, age 67, of acute pulmonary infection.
Ever since starring in the musical “Lily Passion”, directed by Barbara in 1986, Depardieu has wanted to continue his musical love story with her. His dream came true on February 10 of this year, with the release of his album “Depardieu chante Barbara”.
Taking the stage at Salle Garnier Thursday, Depardieu started, almost immediately, to reminisce about the Lady in Black, a name Barbara picked up as she always dressed in black on stage.
After singing at the Théâtre des Bouffes du Nord in Paris last February, the Cyrano actor hopes to mesmerise audiences this summer in Monte Carlo. “Barbara never performed here, but a lot of great singers did. Patrick Bruel, my friend Carla Bruni, Charles Aznavour … I think it will be a beautiful homage singing her music here.”
He recalls all the laughs and the good times he shared with her. “She isn’t dead. She lives in every one of us. She’s just been gone for a while … 20 years.”
And during those 20 years, a lot has happened in Gérard Depardieu’s career, both in film and theatre. On the stage, he starred in Isabella Rossellini’s The Ingrid Bergman Tribute and in Ang Lee’s movie Life of Pi, and all the while he never stopped singing. “In the beginning, I was nervous. But one day, I threw myself into the role and that was it. Now, I love singing because it arouses feelings and feelings never die.”
A vision shared by his accompanying pianist, Gérard Daguerre: “When I hear Depardieu, I feel the same emotions as I felt while listening to Barbara.”
Depardieu reflected on the changes that have come about in the movie business. “The US dominance of the film industry overshadows this art. The quality of films, and the actors, has decreased. In theatre, it’s the same, the directors just want to show off.”
Two decades later, he has no regrets. When he says Barbara’s name, it is with much tenderness. She remains a goddess to the actor.
Thursday’s press conference ended with a gift for the actor from Jean-René Palacio, organiser of the Monte Carlo Sporting Summer Festival: a number 10 soccer jersey with his name on it. Mr Palacio said that “having Depardieu here is a real pleasure. It’s the first time I’ve meet him, but I’ve been following him for a while. Depardieu is the kind of person that seems to have always been a part of our lives.”
Depardieu chante Barbara takes place at the Monte-Carlo Sporting Summer Festival on July 26 and 27, 8:30 pm. Tickets: €222.50