|I have been performing my shows in front of American audiences since 1990 without any problem, and I am surprised by the polemic which arose after we performed my new opera "Little Birds Shit" at the Dahl Arts Center in Rapid City, South Dakota, on March 7th 2007
An Arts Center seems to me the perfect place to perform a modern opera. And actually it was : the space was comfortable, sound and lightings were good and the performance was going well. But, ten minutes before the end, the music was shut down all of the sudden. I thought at first it was a technical problem, but it appeared that the promotor did pull the plug himself. He didn't tell me why he did so, but i heard from other people that he felt that the performance was too intense and offensive. I personnaly didn't feel, while performing, any hostile attitude from the audience : there was no insults, threats or violence of any kind.
The 8th of March, an article about this event was published in the Rapid City newspaper. The journalist didn't attend the show and was obviously lacking information to have a right idea of what exactly this opera is. The result is that a huge discussion started on the forum of the newspaper, among people who didn't see the show themselves and were misinformed about its content. And, the 10th of March, the article of the Rapid City newspaper was relayed by the news agency Associated Press, with the result that, all over the world, hundreds of websites and major medias like Fox News, Yahoo, Heute, The International Herald Tribune and even The Telegraph from Calcutta are writing about "a show where French performance artists vomited, simulated sex and threw faked feces, was stopped by the promotor".
Since none of these medias tried to interview me to actualy know what are my intentions behind this performance, with the result that most people now believe it was a random provocation attacking American and Christian values, i feel the need to write this statement :
1 THE OPERA "LITTLE BIRDS SHIT" IS NOT A PROVOCATION
It is a carefully written, composed, practiced, and passionately performed Opera. It has a story, characters, costumes and backdrop. It can seem random improvisation to people who see it for the first time because the music, a blend of pop melodies and noise, and the intense expressionist acting are different from what they are used to watch. But the form is a very classic one, nearer to Broadway musicals and classic operas than of the random performances of the 70's;
2 THE OPERA "LITTLE BIRDS SHIT" IS NOT ABOUT AMERICA
I read very often on internet and in the media that this opera is about the American way of life. Is is not the case.
Since i knew we would perform this show worldwide, in front of audiences who often could not understand the lyrics, i wrote a universal story that can be understood all over the world : a couple falls in love, has sex and a baby. They work hard and do their best to achieve happiness. But the constraints of modern world are so hard that they can't succeed and fall in depression.
In a last attempt to save their love, they do drugs and weird sex, to try to arouse their exhausted senses and feelings. But, of course, it doesn't work and the fall even deeper in despair.
They meet a politician who promise them an easy quick paradise and they follow him. But they are trapped in a mess of wars.
Nearby suicide, they turn themselves to their long forgotten god, and pray and beg for forgiveness. But their regrets, induced by material difiiculties, is not sincere and they are sent into hell.
As one can see, it is not about America or any other society. It is about the very core of human being, souls looking at the sky but still buried in the rotten ground by their heavy bodies. It is the universal drama of human condition, seen from a classic morale Christian point of view : Sin leads to hell.
3 THE OPERA "LITTLE BIRDS SHIT" IS NOT OBSCENITY
Being a resume of human life going from childish innocence to adult crime and finishing with divine judgement, this performance shows various vices in the second part of the story. But it is not in the intention to praise them. On the contrary, just like the gargoyles fornicating in feces on the front of gothic cathedrals, it shows the consequences of such behaviors : In the end, the two heroes of the opera, having gone all the way through human sins, end kneeling in front of God and chained in hell.
4 THE OPERA "LITTLE BIRDS SHIT" IS NOT A CRITIC
Some people, reading the media, assumed it was a critique of a deficient society. In fact, my operas never contain any critique or messages, because I believe that art is a subjective image of reality and it would be unfair to use it for a cause.
Yes, my art deals with personal, and even social or political issues, but only from the point of view of a lonely human being having his soul and body exposed to tensions he doesn't control or understand.
I am not a militant of any cause on stage. I am an expression of human small joys in an ocean of despair, an expression of human small crimes in a sky of goodness. It can appeal to the secret lonely part of each of us, hidden behind the social curtain.
The opera "Little Birds Shit" is just art, in all its obvious weakness, but too in its strange power to move souls and shake bodies.
To tell you if it is good or bad is beyond my knowledge.
Art is a mystery.
jean-Louis Costes - March 11th 2007 ( please forgive my bad command of english language ! )