French festival-goers stunned as work recreates mass grave – Expat Guide to France

Audiences at an opera festival in France this week watched in disbelief as experts remove dozens of corpses one after another from a heap of mud on stage.

The scene, reminiscent of mass graves in war-torn Ukraine, was too much for some to bear, and at least one woman had to be carried away.

Italian director Romeo Castellucci was both applauded and booed for his final performance at the Festival d’art lyrique d’Aix-en-Provence on Monday.

The artist, known for being experimental, says he planned “Resurrection” long before Russia invaded its pro-Western neighbor in late February.

But it “has the singular misfortune of containing images that seem to directly evoke the mass graves of Bucha, the mass graves of Mariupol”, he said, referring to the suburbs of Kyiv and the city in southern Ukraine. ravaged by Russian forces.

At the start of his latest work, a real white horse strolls across the stage, sniffing its muddy surface, oblivious to the approximately 1,500 people watching.

When his owner shows up to find him, he makes the grim discovery of the remains of a human body.

Vans soon leave the scene, bearing the sign of the United Nations refugee agency.

Dressed in white coveralls, masks and gloves, the experts for more than an hour then work to extract more than a hundred fake corpses, including those of children and fetuses, as well as shreds of clothing.

Viewers can feel the earth as an orchestra performs Romantic composer Gustav Mahler’s Symphony Number 2, also known as the “Resurrection Symphony,” in the background.

The only action comes towards the end, when one of the experts, visibly shaken, frantically continues to dig the earth — even after all the bodies have been removed.

Maria D. Ervin