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Interview. Also singer, Agnès Jaoui in concert in the Nantes vineyard on Monday April 25

With “El trio de mis amores”, all Latin music will be invited to the Champilambart on Monday April 25, with the deep voice of the dramatic soprano of Agnès Jaoui. ©Gilles Vidal

Hebdo de Sèvre et Maine: Where does this passion for music come from?

Agnès Jaoui: At a time when in theater classes I felt I was wasting away, I entered a classical singing conservatory. There, I started to feel myself breathing again, and I fell completely in love with Schubert, Bach and all those great composers who accompany us all our lives.

It turns out that, moreover, I have always listened a lot to world music, fado, Brazilian music, and also the Arab-Andalusian music that rocked my childhood. And I think when I first went to Cuba in the 90s, all this music jumped out at me. I loved it, I felt like I had always known only that, and I realized later how much these were rhythms that were linked to my story…

I fell in love with the country, its people, and I met a musician, Roberto Hurtado. I brought him to France, I started to play with him completely privately and freely, for years. I was very happy to sing Latin in bars and classical in churches, without asking myself any more questions. But we had an opportunity to do concerts and I thought that would be a way for my musicians to earn a better living. That’s how it all started.

Today, your tour takes you to the Nantes vineyard. Tell us about this musical formation that is “El trio de mis amores” where you enter in turn, with your soprano voice, in the skin of a fado passionaria, a carioca or a cubanita…

This trio is therefore composed of Roberto Hurtado, a self-taught musician who is at the origin of this musical formation, and Fernando Fizsbein, an extremely learned composer of contemporary music. Me, I’m completely between the two, and I like it a lot. We played for a long time with other musicians, but today we have this formation which is more acoustic and in which we sing all three. Besides, I love the voices that are one.

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So you went to the conservatory, you trained in musical comedy in the United States, you also wrote one for France musique, you also recorded three albums and participated in many others… what does music mean to you? Does it fill you with things that cinema and theater cannot bring you?

Music brings me immediate joy, a kind of freedom too. It also has something international that allows me to be in a lot of cultures.

Music is also breathing, it’s good for the soul. And then especially on stage, my relationship with the public is completely different from what happens when I present a film or when I am at the theater. It’s very unique. It’s after the concerts that I get my biggest ovations, the spectators are very warm, but there’s no “fanitude” at all and it’s super pleasant. It’s as if there was a very simple relationship that was established with the public. And therefore very healthy. It is a place of freedom.

Another subject, completely different, but very topical: politics. We know you are engaged on the left. What did you think of this presidential campaign and the results of the first round which voted for Emmanuel Macron and Marine Le Pen for the second time?

Seeing an extreme right gaining ground with each election is very worrying. It’s this feeling that everything starts all over again, as if human nature needed to go through its dramas again, to start again from the worst and then start trying to find a new path. It also inspires me that the left, or at least another force of mutual aid, sharing and solidarity, is in trouble.

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However, there is hope in the future, but I believe that in the current situation, we must be right. It is very important to have ideals, but not ideologies. So too bad if the presidential election is pragmatic. It’s politics, we’re not choosing our lover. So I will vote for Emmanuel Macron without any hesitation, and afterwards, I will fight everything that I find serious and unsocial in his politics.

Very little was said about culture in the countryside. Do you think that with its unifying dimension, it can nevertheless obtain results where politics cannot do anything?

Not only do I think so, but in addition, it generates work. And culture in France has such a place that it is recognized as attractive to the whole world. So I obviously find it a shame not to talk about it, just as I find it very unfortunate that we plan to abolish the public audiovisual license fee.

And then there’s a whole aspect that scares me, that of a cancel culture that tells us what to say and what not to say. I would like us to remain nuanced and keep our senses here too. I think that minorities, and I am one of them, should not be as dictatorial as majorities. Respect for others seems essential to me.

“El trio de mis amores” with Agnès Jaoui, Monday April 25 at 8 p.m. at Champilambart in Vallet, 13 route des Dorices. Prices: from 19 to 30 €. Duration: 1h15. Online ticketing at www.champilambart.fr

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