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Performing arts in Hong Kong

Edith Piaf given a new lease of life by singer-actress Anne Carrère. Catch her at Le French May

Carrère started listening to famous French cabaret singer Piaf when she was just three years old. In her debut Hong Kong performance on Wednesday, she will be reviving her spirit

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 17 June, 2018, 6:49pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 19 June, 2018, 10:23am

Singer-actress Anne Carrère may have started listening to Edith Piaf at the age of three but it was not until she saw the movie La Môme (which was released internationally as La Vie en Rose in 2007) that her passion was triggered for not only the French legend’s songs but her personality.

“The first song I remember is L’Hymne à l'Amour, but I did not have any passion for the artist [at the time], I was three or four years old,” recalls the 32-year-old, who will be making her debut in Hong Kong on Wednesday in a performance for Le French May, reviving the spirit of Edith Piaf.

“I got to know her through this film, I discovered a woman and an incredible artist,” says Carrère.

In 2014, director Gil Marsalla offered Carrère the role of Edith Piaf in Paris The Show, a touring production that features mostly post-war music by some of France’s most prominent singers.

As her fan base broadened – and since Piaf’s songs have always been popular in the US – Carrère and Marsalla decided last year to take a risk and perform at Carnegie Hall in New York, where Piaf visited 60 years ago. The gamble paid off: PIAF! The Show was a success.

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Says Carrère: “The room resounded with applause and standing ovations. We won our bet and we were happy.”  

Originally from the southern French city of Toulon, Carrère’s love for the arts was evident in her childhood; at the age of seven, she started performing on stage. Her talent was quickly spotted and at 16 she performed in her first musical. She went on to take part in singing contests, TV shows and had shown an interest in performing Piaf’s songs.

“I always sang this song in my concert” says Carrère, referring to La vie en Rose, arguably Piaf’s most famous tune.

Her strong resemblance to Piaf on stage has earned her the reputation as Edith Piaf’s “heiress” but despite such similarities, the singer stresses she has remained herself.

“The [stage] is magic [but] I did not develop a second me. Paris The Show chose me because there was something similar to Piaf [in me], but there is only one Edith Piaf. Nobody can ever replace her” she says.

For Carrère, what matters most in a performance is emotion. She says: “I am a singer, I am an actress but I am especially an interpreter and I put all my heart into it.”

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Carrère has three upcoming projects. The first is a symphonic concert with Piaf’s works alongside pianist Nobu; the second involves playing French and Portuguese songs in collaboration with accordionists Guy Giuliano and João Frade; the last is an album duo with pianist Arnaud Fusté-Lambezat.

Before all that she is looking forward to her Le French May appearance. “I cannot wait to discover Hong Kong,” says Carrère.

Jun 20-21, 8pm, City Hall, 5 Edinburgh Place, Central, HK$280 to HK$580 Urbtix. Inquiries: 3678 0150