Edith Piaf Takes Carnegie Hall...Again!
I always love being presented with opportunities to write about music icons, especially those who arrive by their stardom outside of the United States. My reasoning is simple. Not only am I given the privilege of expanding my own horizons but of expanding my readers’ as well. Such is the case with legendary singer, songwriter and actress Edith Piaf, a cabaret giant gifted to this world by the French, of course.
Celebrating the 60th anniversary of Edith Piaf’s legendary final performance at Carnegie Hall, Edith Piaf will make her return through Anne Carrere in PIAF! THE SHOW on January 6, 2017. Conceived and directed by the Nice-based theatrical maverick Gil Marsalla, PIAF! THE SHOW has already sold out in many cities around the world, with over half a million tickets sold in more than 30 countries to critical acclaim. The sultry, erotic and powerful voice of Anne Carrere is luring audiences back to Edith Piaf and fueling the desires of music lovers everywhere for cabaret.
The overwhelming applause is no surprise to the creative brains and founder of Directo Productions, Gil Marsalla -- a musician, music director, conductor and artistic director who seems to have the ability to understand what audiences want even before they know. Thus, it is no small wonder why his name remains synonymous with successful show productions in international circles. Nor why he has become known for his ability to oversee winning shows running in tandem. Talk about an award-winning skill most parents can learn from as each of us endeavors to optimize the running of our own shows. See what Gil Marsalla says about that as well as PIAF! THE SHOW in his interview below.
What is your personal mantra?
"Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss it you will land among the stars." - Oscar Wilde
For those who do not know you, share a bit of your personal and professional background, including any relevant information as well as awards and accolades.
I began studying music at a very young age but first performed on stage at the age of 14. I became a professional musician when I was 17, studied piano at Conservatory of Music in Nice and received a master’s degree at the University of Nice in Sociology. I became a musical director when I was 20 and an artistic director at age 25. And in 2001, I founded my company, Directo Productions, and have produced many festivals including over 100 concerts and events France. Since 2009, I wanted to take my experience and share my expertise of French music with the world and bring it to an international audience. I am considered one of the most important producers of French touring shows in the world having produced Piaf! The Show, Paris The Show, Formidable!, and Voice of Heart, among others. I was also honored by French President Francois Hollande for helping to bring awareness to French musical heritage to the world.
There has been a distinctive French "cabaret" style since the end of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th century, exemplified by such famous places as the Moulin Rouge, the Lido, etc... It’s an aspect of French culture, which is world famous, but until recently, if you wanted to experience it fully, you had to come to Paris! In 2009, while travelling a lot, I sensed a real hunger from audiences all over the world to hear the classic French songs of the 20th Century, songs made famous by great artists like Edith Piaf, Charles Aznavour, Jacques Brel. So I decided to produce French cabaret shows and tour them internationally. After several years of touring and producing more than 700 concerts worldwide, I can modestly say, as the leading producer of this kind of work, that I have opened up a huge market for this beloved material. It is an ever-expanding vogue, one that grew each year as we created first Paris! The Show, then Piaf! The Show, and finally Formidable Aznavour. In 2017, all three of these shows will tour worldwide for the very first time. I am very proud to continue and preserve my native country's musical heritage, and to have spearheaded the renewal of French cabaret by bringing it to audiences all over the globe.
What fascinates you about Edith Piaf?
Her singular voice, the power of her music and the lyrics of her songs. Even after her death over 50 years ago, she’s still one of the most loved and most popular singers in the world.
As Edith Piaf's life was both tragic and triumphant, does Piaf! The Show share both sides of Edith's life so that the audience truly understands the totality of who this remarkable performer was?
After speaking with Piaf’s composers who are still alive - Charles Dumont, Ginou Richer, and Germaine Ricord who have told me what an amazing and strong woman she was, as well as all of the fun times she shared with friends, I made the decision not to focus on the tragic part of her life. During the second part of show though, we do share an emotional moment with audience when Anne sings “Hymne à l’Amour” a great song written after the death of her lover Marcel Cerdan, who died tragically and unexpectedly in a plane crash.
How is her music relevant to today?
I’m always impressed by how popular Edith Piaf’s music is today, not only in France but also around the world. All generations love Edith Piaf’s music, especially after the worldwide success of award winning movie, La Vie En Rose. We just came back after touring for three weeks performing mostly sold out dates throughout the United States and Canada. Those audiences embraced both Anne and our musicians. This show has become one of the most important and successful French show of all time.
Describe Anne Carrere and what made her so perfect for the role of Edith Piaf.
I have worked in show business – on and off stage – for 25 years and mounted shows throughout the entire world, but to this day, Anne Carrere is my greatest artistic discovery yet. A diamond in the rough. One doesn’t dare touch or polish her – such is the nature of her pure and natural talent. She’s perfect for the role in Piaf! The Show. Anne uses her voice and charisma to interpret Edith Piaf. I was not looking for a singer who imitated Edith Piaf because it would be a mistake to copy her.
Why should people see this show? What will they get from it that they can't get anywhere else?
Charles Dumont, Germaine Ricord and Ginou Richer, her closest confidants and collaborators are completely in love with the show and Anne Carrere. Those are the people who knew Edith Piaf best and they have all said that Piaf! The Show is the finest show ever produced on Edith Piaf. Also, it’s been 60 years since Piaf performed at Carnegie Hall, so there will be many emotions to share as well as some surprises in the most famous and amazing venue in the world. Anne Carrere will sing 27 songs and during those two hours, you will see a great performance. Anne will also perform a song written by Jacques Brel and Charles Dumont for the first time, “Je M’en Remets A Toi” – a song that was written for Edith Piaf, but she died before she could record it.
When all is said and done, how would you like to be remembered?
First, as a good father and good husband. And then as a passionate musical producer who has managed to transmit and bring French musical heritage throughout the worldwide.
As PIAF! THE SHOW can only be seen for one night at Carnegie Hall, might I suggest that you step out of your norm and treat yourself to a mesmerizing experience. As Edith Piaf captivated a nation (and the world), so will the show in her name. I dare you to view this link and tell me that I am wrong. Or better yet, share it with your significant other and note his or her response. You’ll be buying two tickets in no time, I promise.
Many thanks to Gil Marsalla and 37-Media for making this interview possible