The poets may be spread across different landscapes and time periods, but their vocabulary of love remains the same, said Francoise Lasserre, Conductor for ‘Songs of the Heart’, which will premiere in Chennai on December 17. “I wanted to gather poems from different Indian traditions. I decided to mix Rumi, Sangam Poetry, Kalidasa, Mirabaï and Tagore. All of them wrote about love, sometimes mystical, sometimes human, but they used the same vocabulary,” said Francoise of the production, which is a collaboration between Poetry with Prakriti festival and Bonjour India.
Francoise’s attention to Tamil Sangam poetry has opened new vistas. “I was very interested in the classification of the different moods of love, connected with different landscapes, times, etc…. Like each raga in Indian classical music. There are many similarities between ‘Song of Songs’ and Sangam Poetry: links between each kind of love and landscapes.
The description of the lovers lends images to nature.” This connection to nature is shared by Renaissance and Baroque Music and Indian Poetry, making it easy to bring it together, seamlessly.
Francoise also pointed out that apart from the celebrated sacred love, the other (profane) version too finds its place in literary history.
“Erotic poems (those of Amaru, for example) celebrate love in another form but they have the same place as that of erotic sculptures in Indian temples. In Western renaissance or Baroque Music, you can’t distinguish which song is an opera song and which song is a church song: same music to the Virgin and to a lover,” she added.
The larger-than-life production features five singers, two instrumentalists along with 13 Indian singers and two actors. For Francoise, poetry is a way to get people to discover early music. “I think that Indian people are sensitive to poetry. I use poetry to help them discover early music. If opera is sometimes linked to Bollywood music, Renaissance and Baroque Music is linked to Indian classical culture,” said the conductor, whose aim is to develop Indian skills in the field of Western Music. “I hope to be able to create a professional choir before 2020,” said Francoise.