Bringing together Orchestra at the School, Music Class of the Montesquieu College in Evry, CREA in Aulnay-sous-Bois and the Radio France Philharmonic Orchestra at the Opéra de Massy, the musical comedy of Jeanne and Étienne Perruchon entitled “The l’ other side of the wall” shares an imagined but plausible and moving story about the reception of refugee children:
In direct resonance with this message of humanity, the stage of the Opéra de Massy welcomes eight young Ugandan refugees, members of the Voix sans frontières choir, for a short first part. A little moved by this very first public concert, these teenage victims of the LRA, who arrived in France just 4 days ago, join in the dancing of three songs a cappella or accompanied by one of the singers on the drum: the moving South African song Sensei Na? (What have we done?!), the gospel Kumbaya my lord and a traditional African dance song. The group demonstrates an accurate total work and in an unmistakable community, the group is warmly greeted by the audience, recognizing their talent and their courage.
Spectators are no less impressed by the production that follows: the musical, consisting of 15 songs, On the other side of the wall† In this story, teenagers meet at a musical summer camp led by Lucille, a benevolent singing teacher (and discreet about her parentage). He sees himself entrusting himself with the great responsibility of preparing his young choir to musically animate the inauguration of the brand new Cultural Center of the city by the Lord Mayor, man torn between his responsibilities and his values. While learning a song inherited from Lucile’s ancestors (the imaginary “Miourki” people), whom only they think they know, the children hear on the other side of the wall separating them from a dangerous industrial wasteland , the same melody on the clarinet. Intrigued, they took the plunge, discovering and meeting young refugees who settled in an old factory. Touched by their situation, they lend them the instruments of the music school and, despite some adventures, they all end up at the opening concert of the Cultural Center.
Jeanne Perruchon’s libretto favors the clarity and accessibility necessary for the story (but in a language that is not very varied, at the risk of diminishing the listener’s interest). The music of Étienne Perruchon (sadly passed away in the spring of 2019) offers charming melodies, supported by delicate counter-vocals and an orchestration that effectively sets the soundstage of the story. Loïc Auffret’s staging intelligently articulates the set in different spaces (without, however, building boundaries in it), in particular through the use of movable furniture and accessories, black tulle curtains and some projections of drawings in black and white: everything is fluid, almost transparent and the understanding of the different paintings is clear.
At the back of the stage and through a tulle curtain, the 38 CHAM students (Classes with arranged music schedules), dressed in black with a bow tie as a touch of color, sing with the 27 young artists of the “Choeur de l’Avant- Scene” of the CRÉA (directed by Isild Manac’h) that the children of the camp play. The distance between these two phalanges leads to some discrepancies and inaccuracies, despite a great listening effort and the directing relay of Sharlyne Petit. The ensemble thus releases with scenic ease certain timbres.
The 24 young wind players of the orchestra at the Ecole du Collège les Maillettes in Moissy-Cramayel, students of the 4th grade under the direction of Maxime Lemasson, lead the audience in a cheerful “Chant Miourki”, in the colors of Eastern Europe. scoring and with noticeable scenic ease.
The musicians of the Orchester Philharmonique de Radio France do them the honor of letting them play alone and show the extent of their professional qualities the rest of the time (both as a group of soloists and as a phalanx for careful accompaniment and subtle). Yet it takes all the energy and attention of conductor Lucie Leguay to find the balance between the strings and the harmony, too present during the opening, and to narrow the gaps between the set, a bit rushed and a quieter pit.
The two adults in the story are also played by professional musicians. The mezzo-soprano Béatrice Fontaine, like the benevolent singing teacher Lucille, stamps her voice more or less according to the registers. She exudes a vulnerability, which turns out to be moving, in conjunction with the somewhat forced treatment of her character’s mother figure. The mayor is played with poise and elegance by the baritone Romain Dayez, with a warm and assertive tone, with a touch of noticeable courage.
After a strong touch tutti end” behind the wall », the hall rises to greet all the performers, with a shared enthusiasm on both sides of the stage curtain.