Être Dieu: Dalí versus Wakhévitch


Or should that be Wakhévitch versus Dalí? The so-called “Dalí opera”, recorded in 1974, is more an opera by Igor Wakhévitch (music) and Manuel Vázquez Montalbán (libretto) which is interrupted from time to time by Salvador Dalí’s shouts, squeaks, impromptu lectures and even occasional snatches of song. (Dalí couldn’t sing.)


Être Dieu has always been the least accessible of the Wakhévitch compositions, difficult to find and an uneven listening experience that sprawls over three discs. But the (deleted) Eurostar reissue looks very nice: three gold CDs and a thick booklet with a translation of the rambling cosmic scenario, all packaged in a blue felt box. I’ve been rewatching the best of the Dalí documentaries over the past couple of weeks so I’ve felt more accommodating towards Être Dieu than usual; I’m a Wakhévitch cultist, so any Wakhévitch is good Wakhévitch, but I still need to be in the mood for this one. The immediate pleasures are mostly peripheral: Igor’s synthesizers, Delphine Seyrig as one of the celestial components of Dalí’s “divine” character, plus Didier Batard and François Auger from Richard Pinhas’s rock outfit, Heldon, on bass and drums. The Heldon duo get to rock-out properly on the third disc. Buried somewhere in the intersection between this recording, Jean-Christophe Averty’s Soft Self-Portrait of Salvador Dalí (1970) and José Montes-Baquer’s Impressions de la Haute Mongolie (1976) is an intimation of how Dalí might have appeared (or misbehaved) as the Emperor in Alejandro Jodorowsky’s unmade film of Dune.


Previously on { feuilleton }
Dalí’s discography
The music of Igor Wakhévitch

Dalí’s discography


Lonesome Echo (1955) by Jackie Gleason.

Not a definitive list, I was merely browsing Discogs.com out of curiosity. For an artist eager to infiltrate every medium you’d expect there to be more involvement from Dalí with the music world. The Jackie Gleason is included here as the earliest entry for which the artist apparently provided a cover painting and a sleeve note. There’s a nice shot of the back cover on this page with its photo of Salvador and Jackie shaking hands.


L’Apothéose Du Dollar Racontée Par Salvador Dalí (1971).

Next up is a panegyric to one of the artist’s obsessions—money—recorded on a flexidisc for Crédit Commercial de France. Difficult to imagine any bank today promoting themselves with someone dropping phrases like “divine diahrrée“. A scarce item which can however be found on Ubuweb.


Je Suis Fou De Dalí (1975).

Here the artist extemporises (in French) to a trio of dutiful journalists. Ubuweb again has the entire album, together with a handful of other recordings. This page has some details of the discussion.


Etre Dieu has been mentioned here before owing to its connection with that cult composer of mine Igor Wakhévitch. Described as an “Opera-Poem: Audiovisual and Catarrah in six parts” it propels Dalí’s megalomania to cosmic proportions with the artist portraying a godlike version of himself. In attendance are an angel and two further Dalís, the male and female halves of an androgynous avatar with the female component being voiced by the great French actress Delphine Seyrig. The libretto is credited to Manuel Vázquez Montalban. The performance was recorded in 1974 but not released on disc until 1989. Not the best of Wakhévitch’s works at all, you’re better off with Logos or Docteur Faust.


Elsewhere on { feuilleton }
The album covers archive

Previously on { feuilleton }
Soft Self-Portrait of Salvador Dalí
Mongolian impressions
Hello Dali!
Dalí and the City
Dalí’s Elephant
Dalí in Wonderland
Alejandro Jodorowsky’s Dune
Dirty Dalí
Impressions de la Haute Mongolie revisited
Dalí and Film
Salvador Dalí’s apocalyptic happening
Dalí Atomicus
Impressions de la Haute Mongolie