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Home arrow Interviews arrow Roger Waters interviews arrow October 10th 2005 - Le Monde, France
October 10th 2005 - Le Monde, France Print E-mail

Roger Waters, composer: "I would like, of course, to perform Ça Ira in France"

This month, after the surprise of having reformed Pink Floyd, in London, at the Live 8 concert, the bass player, author and composer Roger Waters releases Ça Ira, an opera in three acts devoted to the French revolution. Ça Ira was inspired by a manuscript created by his friends Nadine and Etienne Roda-Gil, who passed away respectively in 1990 and 2004. The author of The Wall talks about this work of traditional inspiration and the reunion of a group which once was believed to be irreconcilable.

When did your friendship with Etienne Roda-Gil begin?

We met at the end of the 1960s. Etienne was a man of great intelligence, somebody extremely romantic, and also gifted with a great pragmatism. The history of our fathers had undoubtedly brought us closer. His had taken part in the Spanish War before fleeing the pro-Franco mode; mine, left-wing, fought and perished during the Second World War. Etienne was a merry companion who adored to smoke, to drink, to speak. All these things are very attractive to this Englishman!

How was this project created as an opera?

Etienne and Nadine came to England with a handwritten manuscript of around fifty pages, magnificently illustrated. They asked me to put it in music. I promised them that I would do it.

Did the topic of the French revolution interest you?

In 1789, the French wrote the Declaration of the rights of man, a text of a universal range. I believe that something of that survived in the French culture and the republic. If the Declaration of American Independence also contained this dimension, the Americans then tended to put it aside, particularly under the Bush administration. They have already neglected to guarantee the humans right to certain categories of their population. The rest of the world is of little importance to them [the Americans].

Why have you chosen the style of the traditional opera rather than rock'n'roll, as you had done in The Wall?

I impassioned myself, these last few years, with music from the beginning of the 19th century. I adore Berlioz particularly. Prokofiev and Fauré also influenced me. When a critic recently called the opening of my opera too Brahmsien, I took it as a compliment.

You recorded versions in French and in English of Ça Ira; why?

With the death of Nadine, the project stopped for six years. When I started again, Sony asked me to translate it into English. I initially refused, then I launched into it. That was undoubtedly the most difficult part of this work. I then understood that I needed more than narrative. I started to write prologues, to add two or three things, then to write new scenes. Very anxious, I asked Etienne what he thought, and he said: "Roger, it is better in English than in French."

Will you play this opera soon?

We will give two concerts in Rome in November, with a large orchestra, and a large chorus, including children and soloists. I hope that one day an eccentric billionaire will want to invest money in the production of the spectacle. I would like of course to show Ça Ira in France. I wrote to Gerard Mortier about it when he took over the running of the Bastille Opera, but it must have seemed risky to put on the work of a pop musician! The Paris Town Hall had, at one point, suggested that we play Ça Ira in the Tuileries. The significance is that this work is finally finished, in rememberance of my friends.

July 2, in Hyde Park, you reformed Pink Floyd for the Live 8 concert. What did you feel on stage?

It was fantastic. It was so easy to find our respective places and to play these old pieces. Dave Gilmour and I have thrown our toys out the pram over the last twenty years [due to their lawsuits]. I've now matured, I am beyond that today, and I believe that of [David] too.

Can this meeting lead to other projects?

There is, for the moment, no project. Everyone took pleasure with this concert. Even though we have not spoken about it together yet, I have the impression that if a similar opportunity arises, if it has a political vocation, philosophical or charitable aspect which is appropriate to us, we could find themselves playing other songs; why not perform The Dark Side of the Moon? It would not only be possible, but tempting.

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