What could we say about speech evolution today ? Speech may serve a function or communication, it may also be religious or political and empty or conclusive, speech may even be heard as a prophecy or as a commitment ; but, whateverits fields, it is highly paradoxical. Places where speech can be heard have indeed been multiplied and appear as quickly as they vanish. It also seems that more or less everything can be said by anybody so that, in the end, we get nothing else than a rather monstrous and continuous flow of contaminative words.
Therefore, couldn't we say that speaking has become a narcissistic exercise that leaves meaning aside and gives priority to the speaker's appearance ? In opposition to these observable facts, "L'Aire Du Dire" is a multiple-voiced oratorio which celebrates speech and demonstrates how words are essential to our humanity, how they bound our conscious memory and weave our emotions ; therefore enabling us to accept the world and its fiction.
This project is built according to the various modes of speech. It may be the one used in a fairy tale or in a specific talk, it may be a statement or a fiction. This project even considers atomic structures involved in language such as words and sounds, their "breath" and music. The texts included in this work have been selected from literature and history, tales and classical fables, that is to say from a varied and fragmented corpus testifying how rich and diversified our language is. In this space of an eventual convergence, three entities draw our attention : a group of singers on the stage ; mixed and recorded voices and sounds filling up the sound-broadcasting space, and finally, video sequences showing one singer read Christophe Tarkos'poetry creating thus an entirely poetical space that repeatedly structures this oratorio. The situation taken as a whole, is therefore based on a multiple-voiced conversation where words intertwining themselves create a new and sensible matter.
We can't help recalling here the brilliant experience of John Cage's "Radio Music " in which the production of a new musical and theatrical language relies on the chance of the radios. With Cage 's music , the semantic unlikelihood of 12 asynchronous radio-sets makes up the metaphor of our mind, a complex and polyphonic territory which is able to experience how in the end, word music prevails on meaning. For great speakers, whether they are angels or monsters own a mysterious thing in their voices, which is what we actually call music. Roland Barthes seems to be the writer who has best described this point of voice texture in "L Obvie et L' Obtus "; studying this particular connection between the initial texture of a vocal tone and its physical capacity to give rise to a basically musical space. The Magnificent sequences of Jim Jarmusch's film Dead Man give an eloquent example of all this. There, the sound of William Blake's poetry being read, rightly fits with the electric and flexible texture of Neil Young 's guitar.
This oratorio writing has relied on a very close collaboration with Director Christophe Bergon and the vocal group Les Elements. Both of them have wonderfully committed themselves in this challenge in order to build a sound-devoted space linked to stage requirements and thus give birth to this project theatrical contents.
First performance at the "Théâtre du Capitole" / Toulouse, ensemble vocal les éléments conducted by Joël Suhubiette © photos : Théâtre du Capitole