Juliette Gréco, Grande Dame of Chanson Française, Dies at 93

Juliette Gréco, the singing muse of bohemian postwar Paris who turned the grande dame of chanson française and an internationally identified actress, died on Wednesday at her dwelling close to Saint-Tropez. She was 93.

Her household introduced the loss of life in a press release despatched to the information company Agence France-Presse.

For virtually seven many years, Ms. Gréco was a loyal practitioner of the musical custom generally known as chanson française, a particular storytelling style of widespread music. The songs are “like little plays,” she advised The New York Times in 1999, including: “They’re typically French. We’re a people who express our love in songs, our anger in songs, even our revolution in songs.”

She was the darling of critics, in addition to of the intellectuals whose world she inhabited. Ms. Gréco’s final rave assessment got here from a good friend, the Existentialist thinker Jean-Paul Sartre, who stated merely, “Gréco has a million poems in her voice.”

Her signature hits included “Sous le Ciel de Paris” (“Under Paris Skies”), “Les Feuilles Mortes” (which English audio system know as “Autumn Leaves”), “Déshabillez-Moi” (“Undress Me”), “Jolie Môme” (“Pretty Kid”) and “Je Suis Comme Je Suis” (“I Am What I Am”).

Juliette Gréco was born on Feb. 7, 1927, in Montpellier, France, near the Mediterranean coast. Her parents, Gérard Gréco, a Corsican-born police officer, and Juliette (Lafeychine) Gréco, who was from Bordeaux, soon separated, and Juliette was brought up partly by her grandmother. She was 12 when World War II began in Europe and 13 when Hitler’s troops marched down the Champs-Élysées.

Both her mother and her sister worked in the Resistance and were arrested and shipped off to Nazi camps (they survived); because of their association, Juliette spent a short time in a French prison. After the war, still in her teens, she lived alone in Paris.

By the time the renowned prewar Right Bank cabaret Le Boeuf sur le Toît reopened in 1949, Ms. Gréco had decided to try singing. She was offered a job helping to organize the first show and — after seeking musical suggestions from artistic friends like Jacques Prévert, Joseph Kosma and Sartre — she cast herself.

That was the beginning. The first song she recorded, “Je Suis Comme Je Suis,” was released in 1951. Her first album, “Juliette Gréco — Chante Ses Derniers Succès,” appeared the next year. But her star-defining triumph was her 1954 concert at Olympia Hall in Paris, after a tour of the United States and South America. During the performance she introduced “Je Hais les Dimanches” (“I Hate Sundays”), a new number by a young songwriter, Charles Aznavour.

Ms. Gréco had made her film debut even before her singing career began — as a nun in “Les Frères Bouquinquant,” a 1948 drama. She went on to appear in almost 30 films, mostly in the 1950s and ’60s. They included Jean Cocteau’s “Orphée” (1950), as Aglaonice, an astronomer-witch; “The Sun Also Rises” (1957), an American adaptation of Hemingway’s novel, with Tyrone Power and Ava Gardner; “The Roots of Heaven” (1958), a drama set in Africa, in which she starred opposite Errol Flynn; and “Crack in the Mirror” (1960), with Orson Welles.

Ms. Gréco sang the title song, on camera, in “Bonjour Tristesse” (1958). Her final acting role was in “Jedermanns Fest” (2002), a multinational drama with Klaus Maria Brandauer, and she appeared as herself in “Dan les Pas de Marie Curie” (2011), a French-Polish documentary.

She also made a lasting impression in a 1965 French mini-series, “Belphegor, Phantom of the Louvre.” When it was made into a feature film in 2001, she was cast in a small role as a tribute to her influence.

Source link Nytimes.com

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