Le Journal d’Hélène Berr
Commissioned by the OnR and La Belle Saison.
World premiere of the unstaged version at the Trident in Cherbourg on 3 May 2023. World premiere of the staged version at the OnR.
Coproduced with the Comédie de Colmar – CDN Grand Est Alsace.
A one-woman opera for mezzo-soprano with piano and string quartet.
Libretto based on the diary of Hélène Berr.
Comédie de Colmar
Théâtre de Hautepierre
Mise en scène Matthieu Cruciani Scénographie Marc Lainé Costumes Thibaut Welchlin Lumières Kelig Le Bars
Hélène Adèle Charvet Piano Jeanne Bleuse Quatuor Béla
“People like Hélène spread a sense of beauty and give strength to those who can relate to them. To my mind, Hélène was the symbol of radiant strength, of magnetism, beauty, harmony, persuasion, trust and loyalty. Yes, six months were enough to bind our two lives together with a bond that only death could break, that only death undid. What remains of those six months that seemed to last an hour? An indefinable scent that floats around us, a hint of lavender, I think...”
Letter from Jean Morawiecki to Denise Berr (20 June 1946).
Hélène Berr’s diary begins on 7 April 1942 with a dedication by Paul Valéry in a book he sent her: “So soft is the light upon wakening, and so beautiful is this vivid blue.” It ends on 15 February 1944 with a cry in the night borrowed from Macbeth: “Horror! Horror! Horror!” Just weeks later, Hélène was deported to a concentration camp. In her pages, the student, who was passionate about literature and music, sensitively recounts her joys and loves, then the wearing of the yellow star and the rumours coming out of Drancy. Commissioned by the Béla Quartet, composer Bernard Foccroulle has created an intimate and moving portrait of Hélène Barr, directed by Matthieu Cruciani. This one-woman opera must be seen for its historical significance and poetic clout in this world premiere of the staged version.