Corbiau lines up opera ‘Diable’

Libretto, screenplay are by Fay Weldon

Helmer Gerard Corbiau (“Farinelli,” “The Music Teacher”) is attached to direct “Le diable au corps,” a straight-to-film opera written with general film audiences — and only film audiences — in mind.

Libretto and screenplay are by British novelist Fay Weldon, adapting “Le Diable au corps,” a classic and unconventional 1923 novel by France’s Raymond Radiguet.

“Diable” is produced by London-based Operamovies, whose partners include France’s Vincent Malle (brother of Louis Malle) and vet TV and documentary producer-distributor Reiner Moritz, who pioneered bringing classical music and opera to a mass TV audience.

Peter Thompson and project coordinator Gudie Lawaetz complete Opera Movies.

“Diable” pioneers a new genre. “The trouble with existing operas is that they only really work in the medium for which they were intended,” said Lawaetz. “Existing operas are full of text descriptions about things not seen — ‘Aida’s’ pyramids, ‘Othello’s’ towering fleet. You can’t just chop them out. They must appear onscreen.

“But in an opera written directly for cinema, the story’s circumstances can be shown. Singing can focus on what is said, felt, thought,” she added.

Radiguet, a Jean Cocteau protege, wrote the novel at age 18 and died two years later. “Diable” is set in a sedate town outside Paris on the cusp of World War I. It chronicles the affair between a schoolboy, Raymond, and a 19-year-old woman, Martha, whose husband goes to fight at the front.

“Diable’s” score and songs were composed by France’s Alain Jomy.

Sampler extracts have been recorded in London by the Abbey Road Mobile Unit, conducted by Jan Latham-Koeni. Lead roles have yet to be cast. But Raymond’s parents will be played and sung by Belgian bass baritone Jose Van Dam and U.S. mezzo-soprano Frederica von Stade.

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