© Bayreuther Festspiele, Meistersinger 2018

News from the Members

"How Siegfried killed the dragon, etc" - a French musical offering for all ages
The company Le Piano Ambulant have created a musical tale honouring Wagner's work
Illustration copyright Vergine Keaton

Founded more than 15 years ago, Le piano Ambulant is a collective of classical musicians trained in French  music conservatoires and endowed with an adventurous and creative "little grain of madness".  The company is composed of a nucleus of five core musicians (piano, violin, cello, flute, oboe, frequently enriched by a modern and playful instrumentarium) to which are added - according to the requirements of individual projects - loyal accomplices in the form of actors, directors, musicians and visual artists.

Their aim is to revisit so-called repertoire works with respect but also with a kind of impertinence, thanks to unpublished transcriptions that they make ourselves that often lend themselves to original staging. The aim is to share their shows by breaking down sociological and cultural barriers and they do their best to play almost anywhere by developing a unique know-how. They can as easily play at the Philharmonie de Paris, the Opéra de Lyon or in any other venue, as at a village festival hall or an open-air festival. 

The key message is that they play classical music "elsewhere and differently" and for all audiences!

Why was the musical tale "How Siegfried killed the dragon etc" from Wagner's Tetralogy created?

This project took two years of work and it has had a significant impact on the company's life. It was born in a rather unexpected way: the violinist used to read to his children the medieval legends of the Nibelungen and that's how the idea was born. Little by little, Wagner crept into the project and this led the group to start talking about the Ring. The electric bass guitar and computer-assisted amplified music were incorporated from the beginning.  They wanted to transcribe Wagner's demiurgic power and also his appetite for bass by using these instruments. Wagner's music has a fascinating visual power. Julien Gracq, a French writer, has stated that: "Wagner is a permanent emotional orgy". That's right, but his music is also a visual orgy. This is why, unlike most of their other shows, the scenographic aspect is reduced to a minimum here: the music gives the listener a chance to be seen for itself, as if we were making a film without images. 

It works perfectly: Wagner's music opens up inner landscapes in which the listener walks as if in a dream. It seems to be sufficient on its own to create a whole universe, which is ultimately paradoxical for a composer who theorised about and dreamed of "total art".

The narration is given its due prominence thanks to a very old and very fashionable process of Wagner's time (Liszt practiced it a lot): melodrama, i. e. the spoken text, associated with music.

The initial show was entitled "Sur le Ring" which was 1 hour and 45 minutes long: this version offered a varied interpretation of the four days of the Ring, with very different and sometimes unexpected angles of attack, ranging from a pseudo-polar to Paul Auster and including Leo Tolstoy.

Subsequently, the Théâtre de Saint-Quentin en Yvelines (France) commissioned a more condensed version, with a more traditional narrative, intended for a family audience. 

Thus was born "How Siegfried killed the dragon and so on", a musical tale of 1h10 that has already played many times all over France (notably at the Philharmonie de Paris); it has also been recorded for the Paraty label.

The company would now like to present this show in scenes abroad because they want to promote Wagner's work throughout the world and to as many people as possible. Their dream: to play at the Bayreuth Festival!

N.B.: The French texts of the show can be translated or surtitled according to need and the requirements of the venues.

Written by Hélène Vintraud & François Salès
for Le Cercle de Wagner

If you are interested to know more about the show, please contact us :
International Development