Love from afar: the song of desire

pense-desir-plus-important-assouvissement(Quebec) We are in the era of the Crusades. Jaufre Rudel, a troubadour of Aquitaine, dreams of a woman who lives on the other side of the sea. He does not try to know or to meet her. He only heard of it, and since then is its virtues he sings in his songs. Thus was born the love from afar. “This is the myth of the beloved who, in the dream, can not be like in real life,” says the writer Amin Maalouf interview to the sun. “The poet is comfortable with his dream with the woman of his dreams. He is afraid to confront this dream world with reality. ”

For a reason that history has not retained, Jaufre decides one day to take part in the Crusades and at the same time, to find the lady of his thoughts. In writing the libretto for the opera L’amour de loin, Amin Maalouf Jaufré imagined the crossing from Marseille to Tripoli, then his illness and death in the arms of the woman he loves, this time, so to speak it to the absolute key. The work is as a great metaphor about art and creating. “And also about the human condition and the condition of the poet in particular,” adds the author.

L’amour de loin is somehow remind the viewer that the desire and expectation are everything. “I think that desire is more important than the satisfaction of desire. The best is what you dream is what is expected, and after, the rest is necessarily less, it is inevitably disappointing in one way or another. There is always a disappointment when the expectation is great, and the wait is more beautiful than the gratification, that’s obvious. ”

Nevertheless, in the opera, the gratification of desire frieze absolute. “At that moment, that’s all I want. What more to ask of life? “Exclaims Jaufré before making his last breath in Clemence’s arms. For Amin Maalouf, if the satisfaction is so perfect, it is because Jaufré burns by a sort of instant glare. After, there is nothing, of course. “When one has the feeling of touching, even for a moment, the absolute, he says, it’s hard to come back to earth.”

Passionate Jaufré

Presented as part of the Opera Festival of Quebec, Love takes away the poster Thursday at the Salle Louis-Fréchette in the new staging by Robert Lepage. The work was first created in 2000 at the Salzburg Festival under the direction of Kent Nagano and staged by Peter Sellars. She has since been taken often and sometimes in different stagings.

The idea of ​​an opera about the life of the troubadour Rudel Jaufré trotted into the head of the composer Kaija Saariaho for some time when Amin Maalouf was approached to write the libretto. The story of the troubadour and legend that surrounds his person were immediately enthusiastic. “We talked a lot about it, Kaija and I, either orally or by mail exchanges. And then one day, I started to write, and then I did it like I used to write, that is to say isolated, immersed completely in the text. And I gave it to him when it was over. ”

The composer asked few changes to the author, it is being attempted to cut the text so that the words are singable. “Here and there, there was a bit long and adverb Kaija pointed out to me,” he said.

Historically, the lady who inspired his songs to Jaufré called Mélisande. Amin Maalouf renamed Clemence, “for obvious reasons,” he argued. “It’s complicated, after Pelleas, Melisande to call a character. This is an extremely rare and very emblematic name of an opera. You can not regain in another opera. ”

This Clemence, says the book, is “beautiful without the arrogance of beauty, noble without the arrogance of the nobility, pious without the arrogance of piety.” Jaufré yearns to meet her while he dreads. He is so afraid of this moment it makes it a disease. “The myth is medieval, but at the same time it is a little modern, notes the author, because the gap between the real world and the virtual world, it is also the world today.”

The langue d’oc

The idea of ​​a distant and unattainable romance comes directly from Jaufré Rudel. “The phrase” L’amour de loin “is from him, reports the writer. People who are interested in the literature of the Middle Ages identify it as his favorite theme. The idea of ​​the distant lover that could never meet, but for which we devote his poems, his life, etc., is typically Jaufré Rudel. ”

In his book, Amin Maalouf has also incorporated some sound clips taken directly Jaufré Rudel and he quotes in French and Occitan language, the language of Jaufré. Particularly in the fourth act, while a boat Jaufré door to the East, and when Clemence appears to him in a dream. One of the most striking scenes of the whole opera.

Jaufré Rudel’s work and that of Amin Maalouf are also not without similarities. Both authors sing, each in his way, the beauty of a distant oversea. “It’s part of my existence, recognizes the author of the Rock of Tanios, Prix Goncourt 1993. I was born on one side of the Mediterranean, and there I basically spent my last 40 years on the other side. Jaufré left from France for the coast of present-day Lebanon and I have done the opposite. That said, it is almost a coincidence. The story could have told a dream concerning Abyssinia or Transoxiana, and I would have told like that. It is that it was Tripoli, it was the current Lebanon. But that, I did not really choose. ”

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