Olivier Py bowed out, and the Avignon Festival, 2022 edition, with him, Tuesday evening July 26. Pope Py slipped for the occasion into the black satin sheath and red fur coat of Miss Knife, this cabaret singer he invented as his double, his superlative and transgender alter ego who says a lot about him and his ability to take on multiple roles.
Diva, again and again. But Py also shared the evening with the formidable Ukrainian singers of the group Dakh Daughters, and it was an emotional moment that made the room rise as one. His own way, both festive and committed, of drawing the curtain on his nine years at the head of the festival, of which he took the reins in 2013. The 1er September, he will leave the keys to the Portuguese author and director Tiago Rodrigues, the first foreign artist to be crowned in Avignon.
Everyone, no doubt, dreamed that this ultimate edition under the seal of Py would be particularly flamboyant, which it was not. Without demerit for all that. The public was there and there, which is first good news, at the time of the end of the Covid-19 crisis, where strong concerns are expressed about the return of spectators to theaters. We had never seen so many people in the streets of Avignon as this year, and the overall attendance rate for the “in” festival is 92% – which is only slightly lower than it was before the pandemic, and does not necessarily give an idea of the greed with which seats were snapped up for most of the scheduled shows.
A well-maintained and varied edition
On the artistic level, it was a held and varied edition, not to say a bit of a catch-all, where we could see a number of successful shows. But of great aesthetic shock, of those who wash away everything by the evidence of their beauty, there was not, in this 2022 vintage. The Black Monk, the opening creation in the Cour d’honneur of the Palais des Papes, signed by the dissident Russian artist Kirill Serebrennikov, could have played this role. But the undeniable operatic power of the show, its talent for investing this difficult space that is the Court, were drowned in a mystical-grandiloquence finale.
Antwerp choreographer Jan Martens also wowed with his Near future, the second show programmed in the Cour d’honneur, which deploys a collective and humanist choreographic style. But without this either being one of those electric shocks that you know you will remember all your life. We will store in the department of happy memories of this festival In transitby Iranian Amir Reza Koohestani, the delicious Without Drum by Samuel Achache, two shows for children, Hansel and Gretel and Little Red Riding Hood, Animafrom the shocking trio formed by Noémie Goudal, Maëlle Poésy and Chloé Moglia, or the Richard II signed by Christophe Rauck with a Micha Lescot in great shape.
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