Marion Cotillard, a Joan of Arc in jeans: "There are places that live in a kind of Middle Ages"

There are two premieres left for the Teatro Real to end its season and they wanted to do it in style. The most ambitious of these mixes two different operas, includes the music of Debussy and stars an international star: Marion Cotillard. The French actress has given a press conference in Madrid to present Joan of Arc at the stake, a work that she will have eight performances between June 7 and 17 in the capital.

The piece directed by the Catalan Àlex Ollé joins the cantata The Blessed Maiden, by Debussy, with the libretto by Dante Gabriel Rossetti about the French warrior of the fifteenth century. "Both protagonists are in transition between body and soul," said Ollé. "We wanted a Joan of Arc with whom the public can feel represented and that is why Marion is dressed in jeans and a t-shirt. She is a normal girl in a scenario of dehumanization and barbarism", revealed the stage director of this co-production between the Royal Theater and the Frankfurt Opera.

Cotillard has only taken to the stage in her life to play Joan of Arc, and this is the second time she has done so. "The first time was in 2005, at the Orleans theater. My mother – the actress Niseema Theillaud – had played it until then and asked the conductor that I take over. It is a role that appears once in a lifetime ", Said the actress, although at 46 she has appeared three times. Her previous one, in 2016, she had to reject because she was pregnant.

"For me, he is someone who followed his instinct, he had a very strong conviction and a deep faith, and that gave him immeasurable strength," said the interpreter, who a few days ago was in Cannes presenting her new film Frère et soeur. "She made a place for herself in a time of war and in a time when women had no space in the world. Then she was accused of witchcraft because she dressed like a man and was unjustly sentenced to death," he stressed. she.

Cotillard did her homework in 2005, when she first took on the role of the woman who led an army and liberated Orleans in the 15th century. She researched, read and connected in a "visceral" way with her. "She took off her chains and went out to do what she wanted to do above the rules of the time," stressed the actress, who defines her as an example to follow "for women and men."

"He had great ethics and intention to fight against evil, which at that time was represented by the English", added the director, Àlex Ollé.

The creators of the work place it in a "timeless future", although they also say that it is "rabidly current" in dealing with positive and negative aspects of the human condition. "There are places in the world right now that are living in a sort of Middle Ages," Cotillard said. "What is clear is that the world must evolve, because the condition of the human being is disastrous in many places and for women in particular," he added.

The Frenchwoman has never had a problem positioning herself politically: she has confronted President Macron for his passivity in the face of climate change, has criticized the push of the extreme right in France and has intensely defended the Me Too movement. "The subordination of women is unsustainable. She could never stand it, but with MeToo it doesn't even hold up anymore," she declared when picking up his honorary award at the San Sebastian Festival last September. Nor has she now avoided doubts about the appropriation of the National Front of Joan of Arc and her opinion on the matter.

The artistic director of the Teatro Real, Joan Matabosch, has recognized that "all political colors have made Joan of Arc their own at a given moment". From a symbol of "nationalism" to feminism or the European Union. However, this appropriation reaches controversial limits in the case of France.

The French right has bestowed on her the image of the "mother of the French fatherland" and a symbol of the "fight against foreign invasion." The former National Front (now Rassemblement National), Marine Le Pen's party, has vindicated her figure from a religious, military and anti-immigration. "I find it disturbing, unbearable," Marion Cotillard acknowledged in a recent interview about her portrayal of her warrior.

The musical part of Joan of Arc at the stake is carried out by the director Juanjo Mena, who has described it as "a very complex global work to manage" that mixes baroque dances, Gregorian anthems, popular songs, jazz rhythms and martenot waves. "It's a wonderful thing to adapt to an orchestra conductor like this", Cotillard has thanked, who despite not having knowledge of music theory, she has been described as "one more member of the choir".

"Music is very important to me, it is a support in my work as an actress. It brings out very deep emotions. If you remove the music from a film, you remove the emotion," she conceded. Cotillard describes the choice of this project over other more commercial and international ones simply as "something she wanted to do". Although she has walked alongside directors Christopher Nolan, Woody Allen, Tim Burton and Robert Zemeckis on the best red carpets on the planet, Cotillard has never stopped investigating. Joan of Arc is as much a part of her career as the Oscar for La vie en rose, Origin or French independent cinema.

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