In order to prepare for her appearance in a new musical biography of Jacques Brel, Nathalie Lhermitte spent long hours watching videos of the celebrated Belgian-born singer performing — turning down the volume and observing, above all, his expression and gestures.
For the seasoned French-born singer and actress, taking on a legend on stage is not exactly a novelty, in the last few years she has travelled around the world interpreting yet another larger-than-life figure, Edith Piaf.
The new production, ?Brel: From Brussels to the Marquesas Islands?, comes to the Athens Concert Hall on February 5, with Lhermitte interpreting a collection of Brel classics, among them ?Quand on a que l?amour?, ?Amsterdam?, ?Le plats pays? and ?Ne me quitte pas.? Accompanied by narrator Jacques Pessis and accordionist Aurelien Noel, Lhermitte explores the lesser-known facts of Brel?s life, which began in Schaarbeek, Belgium, in 1929. After living in Paris for many years, Brel moved to the Marquesas Islands, French Polynesia, before returning to Paris. He died there of lung cancer in 1978.
What makes Lhermitte tackle these towering figures of popular French music? Their song repertory, of course, but also their personalities. According to the artist, her efforts lie in keeping well away from parody and imitation and coming up with her own artistic sincerity.
For those who caught Lhermitte?s performance in ?Edith Piaf? at the Athens Concert Hall last year, the new Brel production provides a fresh opportunity to experience her vocal versatility and passion on stage. It is also a chance to revisit popular French music and reflect on the lives of icons, both in front and behind the spotlights.
Athens Concert Hall, 1 Kokkali