CLARA HASKIL, PRELUDE AND FUGUE
by Serge Kribus
staged by Safy Nebbou
Clara, or the sonic simplicity of a beautiful Latin name. Radiating, transparent, it expresses brillance and light. With Clara Haskil, this light is both very powerful and very fragile. Humble and intense, bordering on mysterious.
Her friend Charlie Chaplin shared one day that he had met but three geniuses in his life: Einstein, Churchill and Clara Haskil. She was one of the greatest pianists of the XXth century. Why was that? Who could say? Her talent was a grace that shined as soon as she was a child, and which manifested before she had even learnt how to read. A simple little Rumanian girl that did her utmost, with only one finger, to reproduce on the piano a melody by Schumann which her mother had played. Some sixty years later, after innumerable trials, she was finally recognized to her real value, multiplied concerts, traveled far and wide all over the world. And yet, she seemed never to have changed, barely moved. Genius, Baudelaire said, is just childhood recovered at will; but Clara Haskil, who never had any children, sometimes seems like she doesn’t even need to recover a childhood she never lost. Unless she had been deprived of it? …
Serge Kribus, well versed on childhod, was fascinated by Clara’s luminous mystery. He pored over archives, spend a long time investigating – less to resolve the enigma than to dream up on stage the portrait of this strange woman who was for so many of her listeners an unmatched source of joy. He meditated her biography, consulted his archives, listened to her recordings, imagined her emotional wrenches, her bereavements, her doubts – the death of her father while she was barely four years old; leaving for Vienna, then Paris, far away from her beloved mother and sisters; being humiliated around Alfred Cortot, who wasn’t very fond of her; her friendship with Dinu Lipatti, who disappeared too soon; her badly treated scoliosis, which forced her to give up the violon. Her anguish before recitals, and her incredulity in front of this constantly renewed miracle: how much her audience loved her.
And so, was her life like a skillfully modulated, single note? Right from the very first time he read the play, Safy Nebbou was struck by this fate, clearcut as an outline and yet not as simple as it may seem, through this woman’s ability to stay true to herself, regardless of how admired she was by the crowds of her fans, and the years passing by. And little by little, through that voice reinvented by Serge Kribus, he started to recognize a face akin to hers. That of Laetitia Casta, whom he had led in Scenes from a Marriage by Bergman, where she costared with Raphaël Personnaz. For a while now, she had been sharing with him that she wished to work with him and be confronted to this quite unique challenge for any actress: being alone on stage. He let he read the text, and Laetitia Casta was immediately enthralled. With her and for her, between a movie with Juliette Binoche and an upcoming feature film with Isabelle Adjani, Safy Nebbou thus returns to the stage to compose, as only he knows how to compose, a new portrait which is at the same time an encounter with a remarkable woman.
On tour in 2020/2021. Dates to be announced.