A French legend comes alive during the performance of Vive Piaf!
On March 29th 2019 the international theater performance “Vive Piaf!” comes to Maastricht, a music performance that depicts the turbulent and dramatic life of one of the world’s most-well-known female singers, the French rough nightingale Edith Piaf. The editors of HashtagMaastricht had the chance to speak with singer and actress Nadja Filtzer about her leading performance, and how Edith Piaf has taken over her life the past couple of years.
Musicality with many elements
Nadja Filtzer’s musicality knows many elements, she sings typical Dutch songs about the trials and tribulations of everyday life, but also Eastern-European music, jazz, and typical French songs.
The reason why Filtzer has such a broad range of musical knowledge is because she comes from a very diverse and international family; the late father of Filtzer had a Ukranian-jewish background, but immigrated to Mexico. Her mother is Dutch. In short, these many worldwide influences and cultures made Filtzer interested in different music genres, but also cultural worlds. In the past couple of years Filtzer got to show her musicality and internationality in the Netherlands, but she also went abroad with her show about Edith Piaf, e.g. the British city of Brighton, and even Mexico.
In 2009 Nadja Filtzer won the prestigious Concours de la chanson – Alliance Française, and later on her musical performance in Vive Piaf gave her the name “The New Piaf”, and also the nickname “The Piaf of the 21st century”.
Why Edith Piaf?
On the question why Nadja Filtzer has chosen to make a music performance around the character of famous French singer Edith Piaf Filtzer answers that the very dramatic life of Piaf has always fascinated her, and Filtzer can relate to the story of Piaf. Edith Piaf’s life was far from a walk in the park, and Piaf seemed to have lived for all things bad in life, but it never made Piaf love less, live life with less passion, and she kept on on striving for better things in a life that seemed to have been all about persistence and the power of the human body and mind. Edith Piaf was a bulk of perseverance and her life was about dusting yourself of and trying again. Next to this, the lyrics of the songs of Edith Piaf speak to the imagination, because they are full of certain joie de vivre and je ne sais quoi; they are uplifting music, but the lyrics are very melancholic most of the time. During an interview Nadja Filtzer has said that she recognizes a lot about herself in the life of Edith Piaf; Filtzer has known the same passions, and lust for life, but she has also known the difficulties of love. A great fact, that seems more than just meant to be is that the name of Edith Piaf’s father was Louis, and it was the same name the late father of Filtzer had, a person Filtzer really missed in her life, just like Edith Piaf.
How to become a French legend
The thing we would obviously wanted to know is how Nadja Filtzer has become the French legend Edith Piaf. The last couple of years we saw many Dutch, Belgian, and French actresses who have really had good turns when it comes down to becoming this French musical legend. In the Netherlands we saw Liesbeth List become Piaf, and in Belgium comedian and actress, Els de Schepper. We also enjoyed the French movie “La Vie en Rose” in which French actress Marion Cotillard had an Oscar-winning leading performance. Because we saw all these different interpretations, we wanted to know how Nadja Filtzer became the Edith Piaf she is in her performance. Great to hear was that Filtzer herself auditioned for the role of the best friend of Piaf in the Flemish version of the musical about Piaf, during this audition actress Els de Schepper was her partner. The idea of Filtzer making her own Piaf performance was born during that period of time. In the end Filtzer was happy to not get hired for the role she had auditioned for, because she would have the time to work on her own version of a musical performance based on the life of Edith Piaf, during which she wanted the music to be the main focus. Next to this, Filtzer has read 6 different biographies about the life of Edith Piaf, and she saw and listened to documentaries and videos of Piaf. Out of all information gathered the honest idea grew that Filtzer did not want to focus on the alcohol, drug, and medication abuse of Piaf, and that Filtzer would not do an imitation of Piaf, but she wanted to focus on the essence of who Piaf really was. In Vive Piaf original French lyrics are sung, but also Dutch and English translations of famous Piaf songs, and less well-known songs. Because of this the life of Edith Piaf becomes crystal clear for the whole theater audience, and Piaf gets the telling of her story she deserves. That this formula is a success comes to show, since this tour is already the 3rd time Filtzer travels along theaters with this performance.
Filtzer wears a specially made dress that resembles the dress Piaf wore during her last concert at the Olympia Stadium in Paris, and Filtzer sang on the streets of Paris, just like Piaf did. From these experiences Filtzer grasped more and more who Edith Piaf really was. Her performances in the streets of Paris got a lot of attention, and they got great feedback from the Parisian audience. On the poster of Filtzer’s theater tour one can see a microphone that was used by Piaf herself.
Which Piaf song speaks the most to the imagination
The repertoire of Edith Piaf is enormous, so we wanted to know which song speaks to Filtzer’s imagination the most, and why. Filtzer’s favorite song is “La Foule”, which means as much as “the crowd” in English. It is a song that is based on a Peruvian wals, and it became world-famous when The Gypsy Kings covered it in the early 1990’s as “Amor de mis Amores”. It is a very well-known melody that can be heard during the performance of Vive Piaf, the song is about all the loves of Piaf, and the highs and lows of Piaf’s life, which started in the poorest regions of the French capital of Paris, and ended in the most prestigious venues of the world.
From idea to theater performance
Was a theater performance about the life of Edith Piaf Filtzer’s own idea or was her playing the leading role more of an assignment? Filtzer had the idea for a theater performance herself, and to perform it on the 100th birthday of Piaf. Next to this, she already sang songs by Edith Piaf, and Filtzer was enormously inspired by the life of Piaf. After a season of performances with chansons by Edith Piaf, Filtzer worked together with script writer Arnost Kraus to actually make the musical performance Vive Piaf. The newest version of the performance was directed by Frank Affolter. Although there is a really a story in the performance, the main part of the performance is all about the music.
When Vive Piaf ends…
When the performances about Piaf end, we were curious to know who Filtzer wanted to play next. “A tough question”, we thought, but that was not the case. Nadja Filtzer would love to play Brazilian singer Elis Regina, a person who’s life was also very dramatic, but also Billie Holiday and Barbra Streisand would be roles which Filtzer would love to take on.
A new performance
In the meantime Filtzer is working on a new performance which will be released on theaters in 2020. On April 6th 2019 there will be a try-out of this new performance in Grevenbicht, tickets for this performance are available on www.podiumkerkje.nl. This performance will be about Ukrainians who live as refugees in Mexico. Filtzer and her fellow organizers are busy with organizing a collaboration with “Orchestre Partout”; this orchestra consists out of modern-day refugees. This performance is a collaboration with Filtzer’s own foundation Esperanza Productions and Kaptein Producties.
A self-written song
At the end of Vive Piaf Filtzer performs a song that is written by herself; this song is written together with her pianist and band leader, Leo Bouwmeester. This song is written to express feelings and to commemorate the terrorist attack in the Bataclan Theater in Paris. It was important for Filtzer to write and to perform this song, because it can be linked to Piaf’s own life engagement, and her life as a Parisian artist, but also to commemorate recent events all over the world…
Vive Piaf! will be performed on March 29th 2019 in the Magisch Theatertje in Maastricht (Amby), the start of the performance is 08:30pm.
The CD of the performance “Vive Piaf!” is for sale on the website of this musical performance http://www.100jaarpiaf.nl/
More about singer and actress Nadja Filtzer can be found on http://www.nadjafiltzer.nl/
More information about Ap Art Events on http://www.ap-artevents.nl/new/
About Kaptein Producties, https://www.kapteinproducties.nl/vive-piaf/