“The big people have advised me to lay aside my drawings […] The big people never understand anything all by themselves.” Marc-Olivier Dupin has well integrated the lesson of the first lines of the Little Prince. The composer used musical storytelling, has associated his music with drawings by Joann Sfar. A new creation played and projected at the Philharmonie de Paris on 5 and 6 march. The idea of departure is a command of friends. Marc-Olivier Dupin composed the music for string quartet around the work of Saint-Exupéry. Contacted by the Philharmonic, he adapts it for orchestra. “If the quartet is the most intimate, the orchestra offers a greater richness of colors in the music,” he explains.

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Book of French literature, the most sold in the world, with more than 180 million copies, the second book most translated in the world, after the Bible, of adaptations in film, theatre, music… The Little Prince has there not been wrung to the last drop? “There are aspects of a highly modern character in The Little Prince replied the composer. It is a history of trip with several different worlds, different situations, topics such as death and love. It is a very beautiful journey of the important things in life.” The message is universal. And the story offers a bonanza inexhaustible for a composer.

The passages with the fox, played by the bass clarinet, offer true dialogues between the instruments. Around the rose are born of the waltz. The air in the desert form a musical paradise. “The pleasure of writing has been a constant,” says the former director of music of Radio France. Side text, only a few sequences have been shortened, the structure of the story has been preserved. Actor and narrator, Benedict Marchand embodies all the characters of the work. His voice fits to the music, take off and reacts to the slightest nuance. “I love working with him because he plays the music and the rendering is very natural,” greet Marc-Olivier Dupin.

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“The work of Joann Sfar is both very respectful of the original work and at the same time a modern and a remarkable energy”

Marc-Olivier Dupin

Colorful, dynamic, the drawings by Joann Sfar bring a wind of freshness to the work of the aviator poet. “When I discovered the version of Joann Sfar, this was a point of wonderful balance. His work is at once very respectful of the original work and at the same time a modernity and energy of remarkable,” greet the composer. A musical force in the stroke of a pen that inspires Marc-Olivier Dupin. He decides to project some images of the COMIC, released in 2008, in addition to the music and text for a show total. Does it not, however, a risk for the viewer – in other words, children here – to be obsessed by the image and, a fortiori, less focused on the music? “The projections are a bit lively, with sometimes a travelling effect, but this is not at all like a movie, there is no dialogue. This formula already experimented with other musical storytelling works very well between the narrator, the image and the music,” says Marc-Olivier Dupin.

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Great activist of the educational role of the music, the musician did not want to make of this interpretation of the Little Prince an educational project. “I have tried to be fair in the different atmospheres of the work.” A homage to Saint-Ex, in music, in image and text.

Book-audio of the recording of the music of Marc-Olivier Dupin with the chamber Orchestra of Paris and Benoît Marchand. The Illustrations of Joann Sfar. Gallimard Jeunesse. 120 pages. 25,90€. Released on 28 February.