Macha Méril will stage the opera she is writing with Michel Legrand in 2024

The actress, wife of the great composer of film music who died in 2019, will stage the work, the wanderers, that they designed together, at the Chatelet.

Michel Legrand had expressed a wish for it; Macha Meril, whom he married in 2014, realized it. Prizes bearing his name were presented this weekend at La Mothe, the Loiret house where he spent the last years of his life. A jury chaired by Claude Lelouch awarded them to three film music composers: the Tunisian Amine Bouhafa, the Lebanese Bachar Mar-Khalifé and the Japanese Joe Hisaishi. “They are known and respected in their respective countries for a work that is not sufficiently recognized at its fair value.“, says the actress.

The winners left with a trophy representing a frog playing the piano. “This image made Michel laugh a lot“, adds Macha Méril, who considers these awards as a step in the fight she has been leading behind the scenes for several months. Convinced that the musicians who work for the cinema must appear in prestigious annual prize lists, she has multiplied the steps in this direction, in particular with the directors of the Cannes Film Festival and the SACEM. “Each time, I was told that it was impossible because this category did not appear in the statutes“.

Macha Méril-Michel Legrand: a great passion

Unconvinced by what she sees as a way to kick into touch, she is not discouraged. “Several years ago, Bertrand Tavernier said exactly the same thing as me, and recalled what the soundtrack had brought to films that have become cults. He had not been heard. That’s no reason to give up“.

While continuing this fight with the official authorities, she has started another: helping a new generation of composers to take over from the great old ones. “There are budding talents in conservatories today whose agility and sense of melody show that they are capable of contributing greatly to the rhythm and emotion of a film.» . So that they can work in peace, she decided to transform Michel Legrand’s property into a “Villa Medici» film music. Thanks to patrons and regional and national subsidies – which she has begun to request and to bring together – she will have buildings built in the park where young composers can work peacefully for at least a year.

They will also have access to the archives of Michel Legrand, starting with thousands of original scores, written by hand, which have been digitized and classified. “There are also new ones, the number of which you can’t imagine! Boxes containing, in particular, musicals that he did not have time to edit“. In this treasure are unpublished melodies on which writers are currently adding lyrics: Eric-Emmanuel Schmitt, Yann Queffélec, Irène Frain and Tahar Ben Jelloun among these authors.

In a year these songs will be brought together in a tribute CD which will follow the 5-CD set. yesterday and tomorrow which has just been published. Stéphane Lerouge, who produced it, brought together film music, little-known instrumental varieties, as well as songs performed by Clara Luciani, Thomas Dutronc and a few others. They offer a “personal proofreadingof choruses that have gone around the world. Macha Méril added her contribution with couplets entitled That one.

She gets down to a task that will take her several months of work. “I wrote, with Michel, an opera entitled “The wanderers”: the story of a meeting in 1963 at La Coupole, between a young man and a philosopher. We are going to create it in February 2024, at Châtelet”. Singers will provide the vocal part, and she will be one of the interpreters of the libretto. She had no idea it would be otherwise.

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Macha Méril will stage the opera she is writing with Michel Legrand in 2024

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