The Bright Lights of Villette Sonique, A Festival Rich in Surprises

by Laurent Catala


“In the end, the most powerful vocal performance was undoubtedly the one delivered by the diva Diamanda Galás. Beyond her exceptional vocal abilities (a three and an half octave range), the Greek-American singer’s incredibly universal and surprisingly accessible approach remains captivating. Once again, Diamanda Galás has proven her ability to attract the most diverse audiences (from the Gothic crow to the aficionado of lyrical music) with a concert revolving around the theme of the refugee. Her artistic approach has always been to defend, through her music, the victims of life (discriminated populations — homosexuals and HIV patients — or displaced populations, or, most symbolically, those poets and other artists called “maudits,” from Baudelaire to Screaming Jay Hawkins), and the concert at La Grande Halle de La Villette was no exception to this tradition. Behind her successively shrill to very low singing, behind the sometimes almost deafening mic effects, which gave her an added depth, and behind her customary polyglot repertory, occasionally approaching glossolalia as it seemed to originate from a new, unintelligible but captivating language, Diamanda Galás seemed to incarnate the pieces she had selected. Her interpretations of Exo Yunanli!/Get Out Greek!, and especially of Lament For Marmara, a direct homage to the political Greek refugees, were very strong, but the French public was particularly affected by two covers of Jacques Brel. Amsterdam and particularly Fernand offered great moments of intensity and emotion, as the Belgium singer’s voluble and masterful world found itself re-channeled through the tortuous labyrinth of Diamanda Galás bruised exhalations. A mesmerizing experience.”

O Prosfigas/Le Refugié (The Refugee), Festival Villette Sonique, La Grande Halle de La Villette, Paris

Translation from French to English Original article: