Elgin Theater - Toronto
Film based on the life and songs of Edith Piaf to star Raquel Bitton filmed at the Elgin Theater in Torronto.
August 17 2001, Novato CA: Madonna and Celine Dion have had their eye on the role but it is French jazz singer Raquel Bitton who will bring the life and songs of Edith Piaf to the big screen. “She’s the real goods. If they make a movie or a musical of Piaf’s life, the part is all hers.” Gerald Nachman, San Francisco Chronicle.
Raquel Bitton is recognized as the foremost singer of French music (of the 1930’s and 40’s) in the world today, and is internationally praised as the greatest interpreter of the music from the Edith Piaf repertoire. Bitton is endorsed by two legendary composers of the era: Paul Misraki–the Gershwin of Europe–who introduced The Swing; and Henri Contet, who wrote more than 40 of Edith Piaf’s hits.
After Bitton’s triumphant Toronto debut at Massey Hall on November 4, 2000, she returns to Toronto to begin making the documentary concert film of her hit show Raquel Bitton sings Edith Piaf, her story…her songs, at the Elgin Theatre on September 21. In addition to performing the film’s star role, Raquel Bitton also created the concept, scenario, and script.
In this presentation Bitton celebrates the extraordinary life of the legendary Piaf through her songs. Bitton tells stories of Piaf’s life that mirror the timeless songs that catapulted Edith Piaf from singing in the streets of Paris as a child to becoming the highest paid singer in the world at that time. Bitton’s unique heartfelt renditions (sung in French) and her powerful delivery take her audience on an intensely moving and emotional journey.
A 20-piece orchestra backs Bitton’s one-woman tribute to “the little sparrow.” Elegant orchestrations are arranged by Bitton’s long-time collaborator Bob Holloway. Planned for release in early 2002, the film will incorporate rare historical footage of Edith Piaf and new scenes shot on location in Paris and in Morocco–the birthplace of Bitton as well as Piaf’s grandparents.
Fred Fuchs signed on as Executive Producer. Fuchs was previously president of American Zoetrope, Francis Ford Coppola’s film company. Fuchs was executive producer of 18 feature films for Coppola, including Godfather III and The Rainmaker. Prior to working in feature film production, Fuchs produced the award-winning television series Faerie Tale Theatre and Vietnam War Stories.
Co-producer Gerald Prolman of Kingfisher Entertainment produced the 1999-2000 North American concert tour of Raquel Bitton sings Edith Piaf, her story…her songs.
During 2000-2001 Bitton performed her hit show at notable concert halls throughout North America. The tour opened in January 2000 with a sold-out performance at Carnegie Hall. Wildly enthusiastic standing ovations and rave reviews marked each performance, including Benaroya Hall, Seattle; Academy of Music, Philadelphia; Symphony Hall, Boston; Orchestra Hall, Chicago; Place des Arts, Montreal; and Massey Hall, Toronto. Raquel Bitton is scheduled to perform at Carnegie Hall (third performance in two years) with The New York Pops on March 22, 2002.
Critical Acclaim for Raquel Bitton
“Bitton’s vocals honored Piaf’s style.” Ann Powers, The New York Times
“Triumphant return to Carnegie Hall–Bitton performance gives voice to Piaf and her contemporaries.” Jim Bessman, Billboard
“Bitton offers touching tribute to Piaf–classic pieces triggered ecstatic applause!” Don Heckman, Los Angeles Times
“Her remarkable French articulation is Piaf-like, but Bitton’s phrasing and her sound are her own. The result is a glorious contemporizing of one of the classic 20th Century musical styles.” Don Heckman, Los Angeles Times
“Powerful, heart-wrenching, mesmerizing…musically stunning—Bitton’s impassioned delivery has a trance-like effect on a listener. Piaf and Billie Holiday share a poignancy that few others have mastered; Bitton, here, is one.” Philip Elwood, San Francisco Chronicle
“The presentation is exquisite. Bitton is superb in sight and song. I could listen to her combined English/French renditions for hours. Her intensity and authenticity are utterly overwhelming. One wishes along the way to come up for air, to shout and clap and whistle in tribute to the glorious music and to the captivating Bitton.” Philip Elwood, San Francisco Chronicle
“The voice, the heart, and the talent would have pleased Piaf so, I assure you!” Henri Contet, legendary composer of over 40 of Piaf’s songs, in praise of Raquel Bitton.