Actress Charlotte Rampling and cellist Sonia Wieder-Atherton set up a poetic dialogue between Shakespeare’s sonnets and Bach’s suites.
We’re not introducing Charlotte Rampling anymore. The British actress, known for her many films from Luchino Visconti to François Ozon, left her mark on cinema with her magnetic acting and looks. In the field of music, Sonia Wieder-Atherton also occupies a prominent place. The vibrant cellist – also a composer – attaches great importance to contemporary creation and the other arts. In 2013, the two artists combined their talents with Danses nocturnes, a show combining poetry and literature through cello suites by Benjamin Britten and texts by the poet Sylvia Plath. For their second collaboration, it is William Shakespeare who meets the universe of Johann Sebastian Bach, the sonnets of one echoing the cello suites of the other.
“Sometimes the memory comes back, bringing with it faces, names, bits of stories and sounds. From this place emerge the sonnets of Shakespeare, sometimes distant from a penetrating presence. As if they were addressed to these faces or if they were the faces that told us them.
The cello, through Bach’s suites, brings back parts of memory and sculpts time.”
Charlotte Rampling was 8 years old when her family moved to Fontainebleau. Enrolled in the communal school, she learned French there. Back in England, the teenager performed in music shows with her older sister Sarah, and then briefly worked as a model. Charlotte Rampling made her screen debut in the flagship film of ‘Swinging London’, “The Knack… and how to get it” (1965), then toured in successful comedies while taking drama classes at the Royal Court School. But, scarred by the brutal death of her sister, she decided to leave Britain.
Based in Italy, she had her first significant meeting there, with Luchino Visconti, who directed her in “The Damned” (1969). She then moved on to the worlds of science fiction with “Zardoz” (1974) by John Boorman and sadomasochism with “The Night Porter” (1974), directed by Liliana Cavani, a film that revealed her to the general public where she plays a survivor of the Nazi camps who has a strange relationship with her former guard (played by Dirk Bogarde). Enjoying exploring through her roles the most troubled areas of the human soul, she plays in front of Oshima’s camera the role of a woman who falls in love with a chimpanzee in “Max Mon Amour” (1985). She also starred alongside Robert Mitchum in the detective film “Adieu Dick Richards” (1975), in Woody Allen’s “Stardust Memories” (1980), and in Sidney Lumet’s “The Verdict” (1982) opposite Paul Newman. Living in France from the late 1970s, she appeared in Yves Boisset’s “Un Taxi Mauve”, Lelouch’s “Viva la vie!” and Jacques Deray’s thriller “On ne meurt que deux fois”(1985).
Although she was less present on screen in the 1990s, her absence brought dividends in 2000 when she appeared in “La Cerisaie” (after Chekhov) and the singular “Signs and Wonders”, directed by Jonathan Nossiter. The following year, she starred in “Sous le sable”, a portrait of a woman distraught after her husband’s death, directed by François Ozon, a filmmaker whom she then met again for “Swimming Pool”, where she appeared with the young Ludivine Sagnier. In 2001, she received a Caesar of Honour in recognition of her entire career. She has distinguished herself in comedies (“Embrassez qui vous voudrez”, 2002) as well as thrillers (“Lemming”, 2005), auteur films (“Vers le sud”, 2006) or Hollywood entertainments (“Basic Instinct 2”, 2006). In 2010, she appeared in the Allianz commercial and played in the final season of the “Dexter 3” series. In 2019, she appeared in Denis Villeneuve’s sci-fi film “Dune”, released in 2021.
Sonia Wieder-Atherton was born in San Francisco to a mother of Romanian origin and an American father. She grew up in New York and then Paris, where she soon enrolled at the Conservatoire National Supérieur, studying with Maurice Gendron. At 19, she crossed the Iron Curtain to live in Moscow, where she studied with Natalia Shakhovskaya at the Tchaikovsky Conservatory. Her years there brought her a top-class education and left her a special, abiding relationship with time and history.
In her work, Sonia Wieder-Atherton has developed an especially close relationship with a wide range of contemporary composers (Betsy Jolas, Pascal Dusapin, Georges Aperghis, Francesco Filidei, Wolfgang Rihm, Edith Canat de Chizy). She performs as a soloist under the guidance of numerous conductors, notably with the Paris Orchestra, the French National Orchestra, the Belgian National Orchestra, the Liège Philharmonic, the Israel Philharmonia, the Philharmonic Orchestra of Luxembourg, the NDR Orchestra in Hanover, Les Siècles, Asko/Schönberg… and regularly performs chamber music.
Sonia Wieder-Atherton’s musical worlds use many materials and voices. She has been the instigator of many projects that she designs and stages: “From the East in Music”, a show designed with footage from Chantal Akerman’s film “D’Est”; “Night Dances” with Charlotte Rampling, confronting works by Benjamin Britten and Sylvia Plath; Marguerite Duras’ “Navire Night” with Fanny Ardant. In 2020, Sonia Wieder-Atherton signed an editorial partnership with the Alpha Classics label.
In 2011, she received the Bernheim Foundation Award. In 2015, she was named Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres. Sonia Wieder-Atherton performed at the 2018 ceremonial reburial of Simone Veil in the Pantheon, Paris.
Stage direction and cello – Sonia Wieder-Atherton
Lights – Jean Kalman
Video – Quentin Balpe
Sound design – Alain Français
Sound creation – Sonia Wieder-Atherton and Alain Français
Accessories – Manon Iside
Stage manager and lighting – Héloïse Evano
Voice – Charlotte Rampling
Sonnets of Shakespeare: 17, 19, 16, 24, 55, 18, 136, 144, 10, 5, 73, 116, 29.
French translation – André Markowicz and Françoise Morvan
Bach: Suite No. 1 BWV 1007 Prélude, Suite No.4 BWV 1010 Courante et Sarabande, Suite No.5 BWV 1011 Allemande, Bourrées et Sarabande, Suite No.6 BWV 1012 Prélude
Monteverdi: A voce sola (arrangement: Sonia Wieder-Atherton), Hor Ch’el Ciel Et la Terra (arrangement: Sonia Wieder-Atherton)
Lotti: In una siepe ombrosa extrait
Wieder-Atherton: Chant de là-bas
Première – 8 March 2022, Théâtre des Bouffes du Nord
Language – English and French with Polish surtitles
Duration – 1h10
Sonia Wieder-Atherton thanks Claire Atherton and Diane Polya and all the team of the Théâtre Antoine Watteau – Nogent-sur-Marne.
Production Centre International de Créations Théâtrales/Théâtre des Bouffes du Nord
Co-production – Cercle des partenaires des Bouffes du Nord
In accordance with Les Visiteurs du Soir
With the support in residency by Théâtre Antoine Watteau – Nogent-sur-Marne