Q&A with lead actor Danielle de Niese, hosted by Depot Chair of Trustees, Robert Senior
Danielle de Niese stars in Jean Cocteau's one-woman drama, set to music by Francis Poulenc, shot on location in London and Paris.
With an orchestral score recorded at the Royal Opera House, conducted by Antonio Pappano, the film breaks new ground, with de Niese singing her entire role live on location for her film debut. This technique allowed de Niese - a performer already known for her high calibre dramatic performances – the freedom to approach the work in a way that no live stage performance could ever allow, resulting in an innovative cross genre work of art.
Written originally in 1928, Cocteau was examining change that the technology of the telephone was to bring to humans and how they conducted their relationships. Regarded as a career defining challenge, it has attracted many actresses and singers since it was premiered as a play in Paris in 1930, and then reimagined by his friend Francis Poulenc as an opera in 1959. Both had suffered relationship breakdowns in their lives and channelled their emotions into this work.
It is now edging towards cult status with recent film versions starring Rosamund Pike (The Human Voice directed by Patrick Kennedy in 2018), Tilda Swinton, (The Human Voice directed by Pedro Almodóvar in 2020) and the stage version featuring Ruth Wilson (directed by Ivo van Hove), opening in the West End in 2022.