For 4th of July weekend in Auckland, celebrated chanteuse Yulia MacLean becomes the magical voice and presence of Edith Piaf, as the Civic becomes the Paris Olympia theatre. The home of Piaf in the final peak of her career as the greatest French voice.
Yulia was born in Russia and domiciled in New Zealand. A teen contralto-voiced Classical-Pop crossover sensation close to twenty years ago. She has studied Piaf ‘s music extensively and included it on two of her platinum-selling albums. A special presentation of Piaf was performed at Chambord Castle in France, and also at New Zealand Jazz and Blues Festivals.
Tonight, we have a fourteen-piece Civic Orchestra and a small Café Band combo behind Yulia.
La Marsellaise. Eleven-year-old Lucy Singleton from Albany opens the show. A child prodigy with several big productions under her belt already. In homage to Piaf as a child star.
The show starts with Le Flons Flons de Bal, and what a stunning voice. With theatrical dance flourishes Yulia becomes the Little Sparrow. She has the cadence and phrasing mastered and invests it with a special glow of her own.
This is a tribute show and I personally am a big fan especially when artists can invest some special energy and life into beloved bodies of work.
The small combo includes an accordionist, drums and double bass. Mon Manage a Moi is Parisian Café Pop-Waltz with a nice swing.
Bravo Pour le Clown is dramatic and theatrical. A big production show tune and the energy level of the show increases.
The presentation features simultaneous film of Yulia and orchestra on a large muted-tone screen. Flips into black-and-white seamlessly and evokes an old-time cinematic atmosphere, and highlights Yulia’s almost-possessed style of performance tonight.
On Sous le Ciel de Paris, the Skies of Paris. An inspirational song as the camera zooms and flies across the iconic landmarks of the great city. Notre Dame and Eiffel Tower. Klaus Kinski’s Wings of Desire.
L’Accordeoniste. An early song from Piaf which made her famous. A blend of popular vaudeville and Folk. With a signature bravura vocal tone complete with the accented rolling R’s.
C’est L’amour. Yulia takes time to explain the inspiration behind the Art. A lot of Piaf’s music is informed from suffering and pain. How she felt most alive when facing death. Born in 1915, her life spanned two World Wars and the Blessed Generation that followed. You may call them the Boomers too. That would make it French Blues and Soul as this performance is. Another early song.
Padam Padam. Round and round in circles. Attracting beautiful men into her orbit. A spirited performance of this most familiar tune.
Followed by L’Hyme a L’Amour. The great love of her life, the boxer Marcel Cerdan who died in a plane crash. Big in emotional scope and echoing Sinatra’s heartbroken masterpiece Sings for Only the Lonely.
From that Yulia the Sparrow flies straight back with Je M’en Fou Pas Mal. Sexy and playful. Extravagantly theatrical in gestures.
Humorous light-hearted interplay with A Quoi ca Sert L’Amour. Three tenors and a baritone.
Le Trois Cloches. Very familiar Folk tune which the Quartet expand out into a dramatic choral vocal lead. The song waltzes gently around a simple melody, and is a reverie on the pathway of a seemingly ordinary life.
The Shades add one other female and they all combine for a stunning Mon Dieu. Yulia is Piaf at her most tragic with a full Greek chorus sound to lift heavenward.
Music of suffering and death is actually about life and living in the highest realms. As in walking in the shadow of the valley. There is also brash exuberant sexiness in Piaf’s music, as you would expect from the French.
Leading up to perhaps the three most famous songs.
La Vie en Rose. Introduced with tears at her grave as Yulia recounts her moments there in in a Paris cemetry. A dreaded sunny day. The singer is radiant in voice.
Milord. Sassy and bold, the story of the streets and the big- hearted prostitutes. Surges and fades and swings and dances as Julia looks wild and transported.
Je ne Regrette Rien. Classic performance of a Gallic anthem.
A wonderful dramatic and theatrical performance, possessed with a free and wild spirit. That is a special legacy of the great Piaf and that is what Yulia is able to tap into.
Rev Orange Peel
Click any image to view a gallery of photos by Veronica McLaughlin
Le Flons Flons de Bal
Mon Manage a Moi
Bal Dans ma Rue
Bravo Pour Le Clown
Johnny, Tu n’es pas un Ange
Sous le Ciel de Paris
L’Hymne a L’Amour
Je m’en Fou Pas Mal
A Quoi ca Sert L’Amour
Les Trois Cloches
L’Homme a la Moto
Les Amont du Jour
La Vie en Rose
Je ne Regrette Rien
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