More than forty years after its creation, “Starmania”, a musical show by Luc Plamondon and Michel Berger, is given a new lease of life in a version choreographed by director Thomas Jolly. A show to discover at the Geneva Arena from this Thursday to Sunday.
In four decades, “Starmania”, this futuristic and political work, has brought together more than six million spectators. The adventures of Ziggy, Johnny Rockfort, Marie-Jeanne the automaton waitress and their cohort of unmissable hits (“The ones against the others”, “SOS of a landowner in distress”, “When we arrive in town”, “The blues of the businessman”, “The world is stone”, “Need for love”…) remain of an astonishing modernity.
To give substance to a new version of this rock opera, presented last fall at the musical Seine in Paris and whose tour passes through Geneva from March 9 to 12, Luc Plamondon and the descendants of France Gall and Michel Berger have chosen Thomas Jolly , the French director, future artistic director of the ceremonies of the 2024 Summer Olympics in Paris, as well as the choreographer Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui, also director of the ballets of the Grand Théâtre de Genève.
“Starmania is a mythical work because it revolutionized, even invented the genre of the musical show, at least in France. I have always found that it was one of the most hybrid, alternative and political musical works”, explains to the RTS Thomas Jolly.
>> To see: a short excerpt from the new production of “Starmania”
The world of 2023
Climate crisis, terrorism, populism, gender issues, omnipresence of the media, “Starmania” already contained all the ingredients of the world of 2023 when it was created. “It is a staggering topical work, confirms Thomas Jolly. a dystopia in 1979, that is to say an anxiety-provoking projection of the future, but it is clear that reality has caught up with fiction. Luc Plamondon, if he is not a time traveler, is at least a visionary, even a prophet. The great quality of poets like him is to have captured, at least in his time, what will make and make our present.”
Melancholy, emptiness, lack of meaning in one’s existence, loneliness, boredom are very present themes in this rock opera which touches a large audience. “‘Starmania’ is all about our anxiety about the future. As the work questions the future of the planet and the human beings on it, I often say that as long as there is a planet and human beings above, ‘Starmania’ will continue to speak to the hearts of people”, underlines Thomas Jolly.
>> To listen: the interview with Thomas Jolly, director of the rock opera Starmania
A series of hits
The strength of “Starmania” is also its songs, this series of hits that have a life of their own. There too, there is no need for dusting off: “We changed two lines, those which dealt with the year 2000, and reworked a very little known song which is the credits of the famous show where you can become a star, confides the director We sing ‘Starmania’ everywhere but few people know the narrative context in which these songs fit. My work, with Luc Plamondon, was precisely to rebuild the libretto, to take up songs and characters from the original version that had disappeared and to restore a narrative setting to all these legendary songs.”
The new troop recruited for the occasion will not have an easy task. Because the songs of “Starmania” are demanding, vocally speaking. “You need people with an impressive vocal technique first, then very unique vocal timbres. As well as the right energy. I really admire this new troupe who take up the work and put it at its true value”, concludes Thomas Jolly.
Interview by Yann Amedro
Web adaptation: Melissa Härtel
“Starmania”, Geneva Arena, from March 9 to 12, 2023.
Legendary rock opera, “Starmania” arrives in the city of Geneva