The Human Voice — A World Premiere
Sun, December 13, 2020 2:00 PM, EST
'La voix humaine' (The Human Voice, after Jean Cocteau) is an experimental film concert, created and performed by Natalia Pavlova during the complete lock down this summer at her apartment in Rome. The video on the screen that serves as the backdrop of her performance was made on the rooftop of her building, a special place where it was possible to walk freely and breath in the fresh air during this time... (as it was not possible to walk on the street without special permission).
The opera 'The Human Voice' was composed by Francis Poulenc for Maria Callas—although the great singer would never go on to perform it; during the final two years of her life, Maria never left her Paris apartment, and it is said she would frequently listen to her own recordings and sing along at full volume, forming a duet with her own voice.
"The sole role in the 'Human Voice' depicts a young, elegant woman who has been abandoned by her lover. The entire play consists of a telephone conversation with this lover who has left her.”—Poulenc, in the preface to the score.
The telephone is the only thing that still connects a single woman with life; when the telephone falls out of her hands, she falls by herself, alone...
Coincidently, Pedro Almodóvar was filming his short film 'The Human Voice' around the same time this year, as if there was a telepathic connection between the two artists.
Natalia Pavlova would like to dedicate this work to Maria Callas, as well as to all artists today who are unable to go on stage and share their talents due to our current global situation.
Natalia Pavlova - soprano, director
Igor Stepanitch - piano
David Colantoni - producer, screenwriter
Svetlana Naidenova - director consultant
Venus Rey Jr - sound editor
Special Thanks to Vera Pavlova!
The Human Voice - Francis Poulenc after Jean Cocteau
(The phone rings)
Hello! But no, lady, there must be a mistake.
But lady please swich on the phone ! Hello, miss.
But no, this is not Dr. Schmit. O806 ! Hello ! It's ridiculous! They called me; I do not know why (The phone rings) Hello! But lady, what can I do about it! What, my fault? For nothing. Hello miss! Tell that lady to hang up. (Hangs up).
(Phone rings) Hello, is that you? Yes, I am fine! It was a torture to wait your voice among others .. it's a coincidence ... I have been back ten minutes ago. Haven't called yet? Ah! No no. I had lunch outside at Marthe's..... It must be a 11:15 pm. Are you at home? Then look at the clock.... That's what I thought. Yes, yes, my dear..... Last evening? Last night I went to bed immediately but since I couldn't fall asleep I took a pill.....
No, only one, at nine. I had a bit of a headache, but then I recovered.... . Marthe has come. She had lunch with me. I've done some errands. I went home. I have ... what? I am Very strong ... I have a lot of courage ... and then what?.... Then I changed, Marthe came to get me. . She was very nice. She looks a bit ... but it isn't. You are right as always.... The pink dress ... the black hat..... Yes, I haven't taken off my hat yet. Are you coming back now? Did you always stay at home? What process?
Oh yes! I am Ready! My Love, If they will interrupt us, call me immediately ...... No, I am here....
Your letters and mine? You can get it whenever you want. It's not easy ... I understand you. Oh! Honey, don't apologize, it's totally normal and I'm the silly one. You are kind .... Me too, I didn't think I was so strong.
But what comedy? Hello? Who? You think I'm acting? Me? You know me, I am incapable of blaming myself. Not at all ... Not at all. Very calm. You would see it. I said: you would see it. I don't have the voice of someone who hiding something. No, I have decided to have courage and I will. I have what I deserve. I wanted to be crazy and find impossible happiness.
Honey, listen ... Hello! Let me speak. Don't accuse yourself. It's all my fault! Yes, yes. Remember that Sunday in Versailles? So... Then.... It is I who wanted to come, it is I who did not listen to you, it is I who said that everything was indifferent to me. No, no. Now you are unfair. I called first, on a Tuesday, I'm sure. Tuesday twenty-seven. Can you believe I know all the dates by heart ...
Your mother? Why? It doesn't really seems the case. Still do not know.... Yes, maybe. Oh! no, definitely not soon , and you?....
Tomorrow? I didn't know it was that so quick. So wait, it's very simple: I will put the letters at the concierge in the morning. Joseph can come and get it. Oh! you know, it is easy for him... Yes honey! but yes, honey. Hello! Are you hear me? Yet, I speak very loud. And now do you hear me? I said, now do you hear me? It's so strange, because I hear like you are here in the room. Hello! Now I am not hearing you.. . Yes, but far away. Are you hearing me? No, now very well,but your phone rings. Looks like it's not your home telephone...
I see you, you know? Which scarf? The red scarf. Your sleeves are rolled up. The left hand? The phone.. The right hand? Your pen. You are drawing outlines, hearts and stars on the newspaper... Ah! You are laughing! I have eyes instead of ears.
Oh, my love, especially don't look at me. Fear? No, I won't be afraid ... it's worse. I no longer have the habit of sleeping alone. Yes, yes, yes
I promise you, I promise you, you are very kind.
I do not know. I avoid looking at myself. I no longer dare turn on the mirror lamp. Yesterday I came face to face with an old lady ... no no! An old lady with white hair and a crowd of small wrinkles.
You are really kind But, my dear , a beautiful figure it is you, an artist... I preferred when you told me: look at that little brat over there! Yes, my lord! I was joking. You're a fool ...
Thank goodness, you're clumsy and you love me! If you didn't love me and if I were shrewd, the telephone would become a weapon of hell. A weapon that leaves no traces, that makes no noise. I am bad?
Hello! Honey where are you? Hello, miss, we have lost the line (Hangs up).
(Phone rings) Hello! It is you? But no, Miss: they interrupted me .., I don't know, I mean ... yes, wait ... fourteen two seven three.
Hello! Busy? Hello, miss, they're calling. Good. (Hang up the telephone)
(Phone rings) Hello! fourteen two seven three.?
Hello! Are you, Joseph? ... I was talking with mister and they interrupted us. He is not at home ? Yes, yes, he will not back tonight ... it's true, I'm silly! Mister was calling from a restaurant, they interrupted us and I ask for his number ... Excuse me Joseph ... Thank you thank you ... Good evening Joseph. (Hangs up)
(Phone rings) Hello! Ah! dear, is it you... They interrupted us... No, no, I was waiting...
The phone rang, I answered and there was no one. Of course ... sure ... are you sleepy? Thank you for phoning me. You are kind....
No, I am here. What? Oh, sorry, that's absurd. Nothing, no, I have nothing. I swear I have nothing. It's the same. Not at all. You are wrong. Just, you understand, we talk, we talk ... Listen to me honey. I've never lied to you. Yes I know, I know, I believe you, I am convinced ... but it is not this, all this time I lied to you.... Here on the phone, for a quarter of an hour, I have been lying to you. I know well that I have no more hope, lying is useless. Besides, I don't like lying to you, I can't, I don't want to lie to you anymore, even if it were for your own good.
Oh! Nothing serious, honey.I only was lying describing the dress to you, and saying that I had a dinner with Marthe.. I have not dinner at all, and I am not wearing the pink dress. I have the coat over my shirt because by dint of waiting for your call, by dint of looking at the device, of sitting down, of getting up, of walking far and wide, I was going crazy!
So I went out from home, called a taxi, came at your windows, to wait ... yeah! Wait, wait I don't know what. You're right. Yes, I listen to you, I will be reasonable, I will answer everything, I swear. Here ... I ate nothing ... I couldn't. I have been very ill. Last night I wanted to take a tablet to sleep, then I told myself that if I took a few more I would sleep better and that if I took them all, I would sleep without dreams, without waking up, I would die. I took twelve with hot water. Like a boulder. And I dreamed what happened. I woke up happy, thinking it was all a dream, and when I saw that it was true, that I was alone, that I was not resting my head on your neck, I felt that I could no longer live. Light, light and cold, I no longer felt my heart beating and death was slow in coming and since I was in terrible anguish, after an hour I called Marthe. I didn't have the courage to die alone. Dear ... dear ... it was four in the morning. She came here with the doctor who lives in her building. I was over forty. The doctor prescribed something and Marthe stayed until tonight. Then I begged her to leave, because you told me you would call and I was afraid she would stop me from talking to you. Very very good. Do not worry. Hellow ! I thought they interrupted us. You are very kind, honey.My poor love, to whom I have done so much harm. Yes, speak, speak, say whatever. I suffered from writhing on the ground and it is enough for me to talk to me to get better immediately, to close my eyes. You know, sometimes when we were lying down and my head was in place, against your chest, I heard your voice exactly like I hear it tonight on the phone.
Hello! I hear some music. I said: I hear music. Well, you should knock on the wall and stop your neighbors from playing the gramophone at these hours. It is really useless..... Marthe's doctor will be back tomorrow. Do not worry. But yes.... She will give you my news. What? Oh! yes a thousand times better. If you hadn't called me, I would have died...... Forgive me. I know that this scene is intolerable and that you have a lot of patience, but try to understand me, I suffer, I suffer. This thread is the last one that still unites me to you.... The day before yesterday? I slept. I went to bed with the phone ... No, no. In the bed. Yes, I know, I'm ridiculous, but I had the phone here in bed and despite everything we are united by this device.... seams you talk to me... . For five years I have lived with you, you are the air that I breathe, I was spending the time waiting for you, believing you dead if it was late, reliving when you arrived and when you was finally at home, dying for fear that you leave again. Now I breathe because you talk to me.
Yes, honey, I slept. I slept because it was the first night. The first night we sleep. What is difficult is the second night, yesterday, and the third tomorrow, and then for days and days I will doing what, my God? And ... admitting that I sleep, dreams come with sleep, then awakening, and eating and washing and going out and going where? But, my little darling, I took care only of you..... Marthe has her life organized...... Alone.
It hasn't left the antechamber for two days. I wanted to call him, caress him.It refuse to be touched. It was close to biting me. Yes, me! I swear it scares me. He doesn't eat anymore. It doesn't move anymore. And when he looks at me he gives, I fear. How do you want me to know? thinks, that I have hurt you… Poor beast! I have no reason to want him. I understand him too well. The dog loves you, no longer sees you coming back, thinks it's my fault. Yes Dear. Agree; but it's a dog. Despite his intelligence the dog cannot understand it. But, I don't know, dear! How do you expect him to know? The beast is out himself, it tore the whole package of my photos in one shot, without realizing it. Even for a man it would have been an act of force.
Hello! Lady, hang up. You are mistaked the line. Hellow, But no, madam. But madam, we're not trying to be interesting at all. If you finds us ridiculous, why are wasting your time on the phone, hearing us?
Oh! Dear, But don't take it ... Who cares? No no. She swich of the phone after saying that ignoble thing. You look angry. Yes, you are angry, I know your voice. But, my darling, that woman doesn't have to be well, and besides, she doesn't know anything about you. She believes that you are like everyone else... But no, my love, it's not the same thing.
For people, we love each other or hate each other. Breaks are breaks. They are superficial. You will never be able to make them understand ... certain things. The best is to do like me and completely not care..... Oh! Nothing.
I thought I was talking like the other times, and then the truth reappeared. Before we could see each other. You could lose your head, forget your promises, risk everything, convince those you loved by embracing and clinging to them. One look could change everything. But with this telephone , what is finished is finished!
Don't worry. I can not commit suicide twice. I can't buy a revolver ... can't you see me buying a revolver? Where would I find the strength to concoct a lie, my poor dear? None ... I should have been brave. There are cases in which lying is useless. For example, You, if you lied to me to make the separation less painful ... I'm not saying that you lie. I said: if you lied and I knew it. If, for example, you weren't in your house, and you told me ... no, no my love! Listen ... I believe you. Yes, you have a bad tone. I was simply saying that if I deceived myself out of goodness of mind and if I realized it, I would only feel greater tenderness for you.
Hello!.. My God, let him call me back. My God, let him call me back. My God make him call me back......make him... (The phone rings)They interrupted. I was saying that if you deceived me out of goodness and if I were to notice it, I would only feel greater tenderness for you. Sure ... you are crazy! My love. My dear....
I know well that it has to be, but it is atrocious. I'll never have the courage. Yup! We have the illusion of being close to each other and suddenly there are cellars, sewers between us, a whole city separates us.
I have the thread around my neck. I have your voice around my neck. The switchboard should break us by mistake? Oh! My love! How can you imagine that I think such a bad thing?
I am well aware that this operation is even more cruel on your part than mine ... No ... no ... In Marseille?.. Listen to me, love, since you will be in Marseille the day after tomorrow evening, I would like ... well ... I would like you not to go down to the hotel where we always used to go. Aren't you offended? Because there are the things that cannot exist for me if I can not imagine it, or, rather, they exist in a kind of vague place that hurts me ... do you understand me?
Thank you thank you. You are kind. I love you. So here we are . I was about to say mechanically: see you soon. I doubt it.. . Oh! it's better. Much better.
My love ... my dear love. I am strong. Come on, cut it! Cut now! I love you! I love you, I love you, I love you ... (The receiver falls to the ground)
Moscow and Rome-based soprano Natalia Pavlova (who is a descendant of Russian national poet Alexander Pushkin) has graced the stages of Carnegie Hall, Moscow Chaikovsky State Conservatory, Auditorium Parco della Musica (Rome), and many others throughout the world.
Active in performing music from antiquity to today, she was a soloist for 6 years in the Moscow theater School of Dramatic Art, directed by Anatoly Vasiliev. Natalia has sung world premiere performances and recordings of works by composers Giovanni Sollima, Venus Rey and Iraida Yusupova, composed specially for her voice, as well as pieces by Vladimir Martynov. She serves on Artistic Council of The First Cultural International Festival, Russian-Rome, Palazzo Poli in Rome, and was recently awarded the Silver Lion at the Narnia International Festival, as well as the International "Clean Sound" Award.She has recorded 3 CD with contemporary music in Da Vinci Classics (Japone) and in Art Classic (Moscow).
Igor Stepanitch is pianist and composer. He has graduated the Chopin college in Moscow and Moscow State Conservatory. He is a winner of international competitions in Russia and Italy. He has performed as a soloist and in different ensembles in Russia in the famous concert halls such us Moscow International House of Music, Moscow State Conservatory, Philarmonic of Moscow and of Saint Petersburg and others. As a pianist and composer he has participated in many international festivals in Russia, Italy and Poland. Igor is also an active photographer, and his works have appeared in exhibitions in Russia, Ukraine, Poland, Albania, Portugal.