[Media Invite] Play Review: Ma vie avec Mozart

Title:  Ma vie avec Mozart (My Life with Mozart)
Loved it
Director: Alison Lester
Music director: Christophe Drag
Actor: Quentin Bernard
Musicians: Singapore New Opera, The Quintet
Location: 18-22 Sept 2013 at the Alliance Française de Singapour

A troubled adolescent happens upon a rehearsal of “The Marriage of Figaro”. Through the voice of the Countess Almaviva, Mozart saves his life: you don’t leave a world that contains such marvels and beauty. Eric-Emmanuel Schmitt and the genius composer thus become inseparable… Throughout his life, his correspondence with Mozart will accompany him in many moments good or bad. In his letters and in Mozart’s answers, Eric-Emmanuel Schmitt explains the value of little moments that make life beautiful and worth living.

This long dialogue allows Schmitt to wonder, to be reassured, to rethink the world, and finally, to live a better life. It is also a reflection on the process of creation and the universality that lies in Mozart’s works.

The play is the adaptation of Schmitt’s most personal and self-revelatory book, full of admiration, gratitude and love. It includes, in answer to the author’s letters, 16 pieces and extracts from among Mozart’s finest works will be performed on stage by 8 of the most talented musician in Singapore.

Walking into the theatre, a sparse stage decorated with furniture coming from the Harry Potter Hogwarts set greets me. A portable screen bearing slightly blurred English subtitles stands to the right of the stage.

Ma vie avec Mozart is the first play I’ve attended in a while, and with its self-contained, minimalist yet thoughtful approach, is not particularly my cup of tea. While the text itself is soulful, it tends to be a downer, with many of the downs of the character’s life being portrayed on stage. There are hints that the character has had a good life, but these moments are glossed over in preference for moments of rumination.

The play starts with the entrance of a man, whose strong performance stays with me until now. It’s clear that this is a one man show, even with music accompaniment from the Singapore New Opera and the Quintet. Being fluent in basic (very basic French), I relied on the subtitles. It’s impressive how Bernard has memorised every single word of the text. While he’s not particularly expressive, he brings a gravitas to the portrayal of a character who spends much of his time substituting Mozart, his work and life for his life events.

There was a much stronger second half after the intermission. With a better utilization of Mozart’s music, the scenes being played out on stage felt more poignant. There was one scene that stood out for me and many others in particular, which coincidentally happened to be one of the main highlights of the play–a moment where the character is at peace with himself and his life.

Overall, a good effort by the QUEST Interactive Singapore team. I do hope to experience more of their repertoire here.

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