L’Inondation, a wonderful surprise at Opéra Comique

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Chloé Briot seated (The Woman), Victoire Bunel (The Neighbor), Noram Nahoun, (La Jeune Fille), Photo S. Brion

The opera “l’Inondation” was first produced in 2019 at Opéra Comique with Chloé Briot and Boris Grappe as The Woman and The Man.  It is composed by Francesco Filidei, born in 1973 in Pisa, and trained at the French National Conservatory and at IRCAM, and written and directed by Joël Pommerat, one of France’s leading playwright. It is completely overwhelming and I was surprised to even like the music which is very contemporary. The Chamber orchestra directed by Leonhard Garms,  came from Luxembourg and was fascinating with all sorts of unknown instruments such as the bell from the Alps, a bicycle pump, a nightingale appeau, drum with friction, rocks, wind machine … New visual sounds, a rich orchestration which has a direct impact on the public. The music is totally modern and yet easy to understand. 

Upstairs, Enguerrand de Hys with his son, downstairs Chloé Briot and Victoire Brunel with baby with Norma Nahoun, photo S. Brion

The plot is very dramatic and I was so moved by the work that I had to rush out before the crowds and get back to my cozy home so as to overcome the chill of the performance. A young couple lives in a building with their neighbors upstairs. (The small apartments reminded me of the Le Havre Perret’s architecture, with 1960’s furniture and sofa beds on every floor.) They cannot have a child while the neighbors have three including a little baby which is prominently featured all along the opera. It does not cry Thank God. They live on an island separated from the mainland by a bridge and the weather becomes fierce with an inundation taking place halfway through the opera. The wind and violence of the storm are featured in the partition.

Jean Christophe Lanièce took over the part of the Man for this production, leaning over The Young girl with The Woman, photo S. Brion

The drama of the story comes from the 14 year old, who lives upstairs and suddenly looses her father. The ground floor couple decides to take her in and of course, The Man, falls for her. She, on the other hand, is mostly interested in a gang of young high school friends who are always waiting for her outside her window.  The tension is wonderfully portrayed and emphasized by the inundation which finally saves the marriage. The Woman gets pregnant once The Young Girl disappears.  The end is overly dramatic, with the delivery taking place in a clinic which looks more like an asylum for crazy people. Did The Woman strangle the Young Girl or is it just a hallucination? In any case she haunts her and is even duplicated on stage to show how strong her impact is on The Woman’s mental state.

After the delivery The Woman becomes insane, Tomislav Lavoie is the Doctor

Coproduced by the Angers Nantes Opera, the Rennes Opera and Limoges Opera as well as the Theatres of the city of Luxembourg, this 2 hr long opera is beautifully set and well sung by an entirely French cast. It ends on March 5 th. But if you live in Luxembourg, teh opera will e played on May 26 and 28 at the Théâtre de la Ville.

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