MB14 talks to us about the film Tenor, opera and rap

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MB14 is a French rapper who plays the character of Antone in the film Tenor, which opens in Australian cinemas tomorrow. This character from the Paris suburbs and the world of rap and beatbox enters the world of opera completely by chance. MB14, rapper and now actor thanks to the film Ténor, talks to us about the film, opera and rap. Read our interview with him below.

Photo: David Koskas

MB14, in the film Tenor your character is a rapper, as you are in real life, but from the Paris suburbs who finds himself by chance in an opera school. You trained in opera, for the role. Did you have any previous experience or knowledge of opera?

Yes. The film was shot in 2021, and I started playing music about ten years before that. So it’s true that in the course of my career, I’ve had the opportunity to listen to quite a lot of opera and classical music. For example, there’s a radio station in France called Radio Classique. And all day long they broadcast symphonies, opera arias, well-known classical music pieces. So it’s true that I’ve built up a very small classical music culture.


And in the process, I’ve listened to a lot of opera. In fact, I listened to a lot of opera voices, both male and female, tenors, sopranos and so on. And so I tried for years to sing a bit operatically on my own, but it wasn’t the real technique. Because there’s a real technique in opera, which consists of making the sound resonate inside the resonators of the skull and in the body. To be able to project the sound, it’s a matter of physics through the air, of course, to be able to project the sound, but without having to force it on the vocal cords.


And I didn’t necessarily have this technique. I was fine with the high notes, let’s say the top voice. That’s it. I mastered it quite well, you could say, for someone who learns by themselves. But the tenor voice is more complicated. So it’s true that during the shoot, I took lessons for about two months, just before the shoot, and during a little while, with an opera singing teacher called Caroline Faivre who gave me three or four lessons a week, and that’s how I was really able to progress. She gave me the basics of opera singing. So, since then, it’s been two or two and a half years. I’ve learned a lot since then. I’ve watched a lot of documentaries on YouTube, I’ve listened to a lot of different opera singers, the great opera singers of the 30’s, 40’s, 50’s, 60’s, 70’s. In short, I’ve tried to build up a real culture in this field.


I don’t train every day, but I’ve been doing it for almost two years now, because opera has become a real passion. Opera singing is really a form of singing that does me a lot of good, because it allows me to sing with power. I can feel the sound resonating in my body, in my head.

MB14 Image: David Koskas
Image: David Koskas


That must be strange the first time you feel it.

Frankly, it’s hard at first. In the beginning, it’s really difficult because it’s exhausting. You have to manage to combine so many parameters within the voice, and at the same time, you have to unlearn the bad reflexes you’ve accumulated over the years. That’s why, at the beginning, it’s very difficult, very trying. But now that I’ve really trained myself and know that I’ve mastered the basics at least of the subject, it’s a pleasure because I can have fun singing great opera arias. It’s not easy, but I manage to get the hang of it, and that makes me feel really good.


In any case, in life, I like to progress, I like to feel that I’m making progress, and I don’t regret having come this far in opera, because it’s even served me well in other forms of singing, whether it’s rap, pop, reggae or variety. Thanks to my training as an opera singer, I’ve been able to open up my voice completely and understand it a lot more. And that’s priceless, really. Because when you’re a singer, you always want to sing better. And now it’s become a passion.


To add one last thing, I’m a great believer in the healing power of the voice. In other words, I’m convinced that, scientifically, the voice, with its vibration, can heal the body, act on the cells, and act on the water in the body. It’s been proven. Let’s just say that the vibration of sound has an impact on matter and on the body’s energy. What’s more, we have a chakra in the throat. It’s the third chakra, the chakra of communication and expression. And I’m convinced that singing has a very strong meditative and spiritual side that helps heal the body and spirit. That’s why I do it a lot.


Will you be introducing a bit of opera into your future projects? 

For example, I released a project called Ambitus in 2018 and in that project, even though it was before I took opera lessons, it already featured a lot of operatic voices. In that project, I tried to do a lot of operatic or polyphonic voices that sound a bit like Mozart’s Requiem. I really tried to bring in something with a lot of voices, a lot of high voices, a lot of low voices, because the ancient side of operatic singing speaks to me a lot and I really tried to make a project that sounds both, let’s say modern, with hip hop sounds, a bit of soul sound, etc. and at the same time with a very ancient side, very antique, very mystical, big opera voices to give a bit of a spiritual side to the project. Anyway, you’ll have to listen to it to see.


I’m very fond of history, archaeology and all that sort of thing. And I like mixing things up, mixing the old with the new. In fact, it’s something that really appeals to me.


That’s interesting, I’ll have a listen. What challenges have you had to overcome in learning how to sing lyrically?

I’d say that, in fact, my nature is to want to make a lot of progress and I find it hard to accept sometimes that I can’t do something I want to do. So it’s been hard for me to accept that I need to be patient, to make mistakes, to fail, to succeed and to fail again. In fact, every time I do it, I think I’ve understood the technique, but in fact, no, that’s not it, there’s still another layer to understand, there’s still another step to understand. But no, that’s not it, this is it. And that’s what’s mentally and physically exhausting, is that in fact you train, train, train a lot for not much progress.

MB14 et Michèle Laroque dans Ténor Image: David Koskas
MB14 and Michèle Laroque in Tenor. Image: David Koskas

Yes, that must be frustrating.

Very frustrating, frankly. Opera made me cry. I have cried about it. At times, during the shoot or even now, in the two years I’ve spent working. There are times when it’s really exhausting, because sometimes you feel like you’re swimming against the tide and even fighting in a void. In fact, you get the impression that you’re working and working and you don’t understand why you don’t see any progress.


And then at some point you’re working, and then you understand the trick. Ah, but that’s it. And then something clicks and suddenly, that’s what it’s all about. You have to be really patient, you have to concentrate, it’s all vibrations. So sometimes you finish and your head hurts, your throat hurts, you don’t feel like singing anymore, you feel like taking a break. But you have to start over the next day or the one after. Because that’s the thing, when you don’t practice often enough, your voice becomes more challenging.


It’s not that it gets rusty, but it’s that to progress, you have to train at least every two or three days.


Like athletes do with their muscles.

Exactly, if you don’t sing for a week, your body and voice start to atrophy. To begin with, it becomes difficult. But when you train every day or every other day, every third day at the most, you’re always fresh. So that’s it, it’s patience and rigour.


How do you think the film Tenor has helped to break down stereotypes or preconceived ideas about either opera or rap?

I’d say that, in a way, it shows that you can come from anywhere and still be an opera singer. I think there are still a lot of clichés out there, especially when it comes to opera. Because rap, everyone listens to rap, everyone knows it. For example, there’s a song in France called Bande organisée. It’s one of the biggest rap tracks to come out in recent years, in terms of streams, YouTube views and so on. And everyone in France knows this track, and not just that, it’s an example.

But that’s it, rap today is part of French culture. Everyone between zero and 50 listens to rap. Everyone knows the big rappers, so there are fewer clichés about it. Of course, it’s still associated with the street and the suburbs. There are always clichés about drug dealing and violence and whatnot, and neighbourhoods and so on. But on the whole, everyone listens to rap.


Whereas opera, there are still a lot of people who think it’s reserved for an elite, when in fact it’s not true. Today, you can go on YouTube and, free of charge, access 100 years of opera history. You can access black and white videos of singers like Caruso, Mario Lanza, Mario Del Monaco, Di Stefano, Franco Corelli and Pavarotti. And it’s all free. So in fact, it’s still a vision of people. Maybe it’s a matter of the costumes, the beautiful, beautiful instruments, the beautiful dresses, the very theatrical side that doesn’t really correspond to today’s era, but which was the pop of the time in fact.


In other words, when people went to see Pavarotti, it was like people today go to see Ed Sheeran in concert, you know what I mean. Back then, Pavarotti was a pop star and that’s why, when you want to go and see opera concerts in France, depending on where you are in the hall, the prices are cheaper. You can go and see an opera concert for 20 – 30 € and that’s the price of a pop concert in a big hall today. So there are still barriers to be broken.


But fortunately, thanks to the Internet, we now have instant access to everything we want. So today, there’s no excuse not to listen to opera. It’s a matter of taste now. Anyone who wants to be interested can. And that’s it.


And MB14 to finish, what do you like the most about the film Tenor?

The film Tenor!


The whole thing?

Yes, frankly, that’s what I like most, that’s it, the whole thing. The fact that I’ve been able to be very free in my acting, in the way I’ve reworked my dialogues, in the way I’ve been able to suggest things. I’m also very happy to have been able to work in settings like these, with a team like this, with lots of great actors. I even got to meet Roberto Alagna and act with him, with a director like Claude Zidi Junior who’s a great director, and with a producer who trusted me and fought for this project in incredible settings with a great story.

Roberto Alagna, MB14, image par David Koskas
Roberto Alagna, MB14. Image by David Koskas

Well, really, that’s the whole point of this film. It was an incredible experience, and what’s more, I got to do it all in one film. I was able to realize my dream of becoming an actor. What’s more, in the same film, I was able to sing opera, which I love, I was able to rap, which is also my passion, and I was even able to beatbox, so for me this film really ticked all the boxes, and was a teenage dream in fact.


And that’s why it’s a film that will stay in my heart for the rest of my life. And I’m so happy to have been part of it and to have made it. Even if it was sometimes difficult mentally, vocally, physically, etc., it remains one of the most beautiful memories of my life in fact. Really, I’m so happy to have done it that it’s a dream come true, in fact, this film.

We’d like to thank MB14 for this interview and recommend that you go and see the film Tenor in Australian cinemas from tomorrow, December 7.


Read our review of Tenor the film here



Sydney and Melbourne to screen Matthieu Chedid -M-‘s concert for one night only, next Thursday

The Crime is Mine is unmissable witty, theatrical fun in cinemas this Thursday

Paris Memories traces the difficulties of being a survivor of the Paris terrorist attacks

Lie with me is a beautiful, heart-breaking film which is a must-see this AFFFF 2023


And if you’re looking for things to do that have a French flavour this month, check out our What’s on in December



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What’s on in December 2023 – Events with French and Francophone links happening in Australia this month

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Happy December and the first day of Summer!

What's on in December 2023

Even though a lot of things are slowing down, there are still plenty of events with French and Francophone links to keep you entertained this December, from Christmas markets to champagne events and film to literature.

27/10 - 08/12CANBERRAExhibtion - La Source
04/11 -10/03SYDNEYKandinsky
16/11 - 04/02PERTH Monet in Paris
16/11 - 06/12PERTHJewish International Film Festival (JIFF)
18/11 - 17/03WARRNAMBOOL, VICLisa Gorman x Mirka Mora
25/11 -28/04SYDNEYLouise Bourgeois -Has the Day Invaded the Night or Has the Night Invaded the Day?
29/11-3/12SYDNEYBlanc de Blanc Encore
01/12DARWINBoard Game Night
01/12GOLD COASTRosé, Champagne and Caviar Pop-Up
01/12MELBOURNELangue de chat - French musette quartet
01/12SYDNEYChampagne Lunch on the deck
01/12SYDNEYFrench Touch
01/12 - 03/12MELBOURNEAlliance Française Xmas Market
02/12ADELAIDELa Guinguette - Summer Garden Fest
02/12BRISBANEMeet Kathy George - Ashgrove Library
02/12CANBERRAFrench Market
02/12GEELONG, VICFrench Films in Geelong: Saint Omer
02/12MELBOURNEMonet meets Chardonnay
02/12MELBOURNEEdith Piaf: Life, Love & No Regrets
02/12SYDNEYMarché de Noël
02/12SYDNEYParis to Manly Xmas Market
02/12SYDNEYSnowmen Macaron Class
02/12TOOWOOMBA, QLDAF Toowoomba General meeting and AGM
02/12TOOWOOMBA, QLDAF Toowoomba End of Year Soirée
02/12WAGGA WAGGA, NSWSoirée Beaujolais Nouveau et Noel 2023
03/12CANBERRAMa Petite Patisserie Grand Opening Manuka Village
03/12GEELONG, VICFrench Films in Geelong: Saint Omer
03/12HOBARTIndulge in the Artisty of French Cheese Box
03/12MELBOURNEA Journey to Paris. An unforgettable High Tea Experience
03/12MELBOURNECanada Club Christmas Party/ fête de Noël 2023
03/12PERTHHavana Wave #2
03/12 - 07/04MELBOURNENGV Triennial
04/12GEELONG, VICFrench Films in Geelong: Saint Omer
04/12MAITLAND, NSWFrench Storytime
05/12CANBERRAProvence Wine Tasting
05/12PERTHIn conversation with Sue Tredget
05/12PORT MACQUARIE, NSWFrench Scrabble
06/12BRISBANEGrand Cru Champagne Dinner - RSRV by Maison Mumm
06/12BRISBANEBeauty Bosses unlocked with Christie Cameron
06/12MELBOURNEThe Zoe K Whole Experience
06/12PERTHDocumentary: FAME (Italy)
06/12SYDNEYThe 2023 Sonia Marks Memorial Lecture
07/12ADELAIDEFACCI SA: Christmas Tchin Tchin
07/12ADELAIDEChristmas Royale
07/12GOLD COASTGrand Cru Champagne Dinner - RSRV by Maison Mumm
07/12GOLD COASTTrivia @ Madocke
07/12MELBOURNEArtist -M- in concert
07/12MELBOURNESt Kilda French Playgroup
07/12MELBOURNEIn pour taste: a comedy wine tasting experience
07/12SYDNEYArtist -M- in concert
08/12BRISBANECocktail Masterclass: For the Love of Vodka (french martini & cosmopolitan)
08/12EMERALD BEACH, NSWDouble cream brie cheesemaking class
08/12MELBOURNEShiraz Dinner: Forgotten Legends Masterclass
08/12PERTHFilm Club: “Return of the hero" directed by Laurent Tirard.
08/12PERTHrROXYMORE [française im berlin] @ rRECHABITE <>
08/12PERTH4 essential pastry basics cooking class with Michelin star chef
08/12SYDNEYFilm Club: Saint Omer
08/12SYDNEYFACCI NSW: Corporate Golf Day
09/12BRISBANEThe French Beauty Academy Graduation Ceremony
09/12BRISBANECocktail Masterclass: For the Love of Vodka (french martini & cosmopolitan)
09/12CANBERRAFestive Christmas Treats Class- Vegan Baking class by Ma Petite Patisserie
09/12MELBOURNERave alert showcase ft. Fenrick, VCL & X&TRICK
09/12SYDNEYAnnandale Cellars Wine Fair
09/12SYDNEYCabaret La Belle Rose - dinner & Show
09/12SYDNEYSnowmen Macaron Class
10/12ADELAIDECyrano Wines Spring Wine Tasting
10/12LISTON, NSWLavender Farm Monet Champagne Brunch
10/12MELBOURNEA Journey to Paris. An unforgettable High Tea Experience
10/12PERTHXmas in New Orleans Charcoal & Champagne social life-drawing masterclass
10/12SYDNEYLe Marché Willoughby
10/12SYDNEYFête de Noël/Christmas Party avec le Québec Oz Club of Sydney and friends
11/12MAITLAND, NSWFrench Storytime
11/12PERTHBook Club
12/12MELBOURNEIn pour taste: a comedy wine tasting experience
13/12HOBARTBilingual Storytime
13/12ORANGE, NSWPageturners December Daytime Book discussion
13/12ORANGE, NSWPageturners December EVENING Book discussion
13/12SYDNEYPhilo Bistro: WORDS & WONDERS: A literary affair with authors Nicolas Fargues and Elisa Shua Dusapin
13/12SYDNEYFrench Aromatised Wines & Aperitifs - a discovery night with Manu Bonjour
14/12ADELAIDELe Mepris 60: A night and day of celebration
14/12ADELAIDEBook Club: Trois vies par semaine
14/12GOLD COASTTrivia @ Madocke
14/12MELBOURNESt Kilda French Playgroup
15/12BRISBANEChampagne Wars
15/12HOBARTPicnic Quintet
15/12MELBOURNECelebration Lunch @ Appartement 26
15/12MELBOURNETrip to Paris // Wasteman // ROMCOM
15/12SYDNEYLost Nomad: Bedouin Double Bay
15/12 - 22/12SYDNEYLe Jolly Market
16/12CANBERRAVegan Hazelnut and Vanilla Rolled Bûche Class- Teenage class (11-15 years)
16/12CANBERRAVegan Hazelnut and Vanilla Rolled Bûche Class- Adult class
16/12CANBERRALa Bella Burleschi: A cabaret Renaissance dinner & Show
16/12MELBOURNEGlenbrae en France
16/12NANANGO, QLDChampagne Brunch
16/12POKOLBINCheesemaking workshop including cheese tasting appreciation class
16/12SYDNEYCabaret La Belle Rose - dinner & Show
16/12SYDNEYSnowmen Macaron Class
16/12WATERVALE, CLARE VALLEY, SAChampagne with Alex - Grower Champagne Masterclass
17/12MELBOURNEA Journey to Paris. An unforgettable High Tea Experience
18/12CANBERRAFestive Christmas Treats- Vegan Baking Class by Ma Petite Patisserie
18/12CANBERRAKids Festive Christmas Treats Class - Vegan Baking class by Ma Petite Patisserie
19/12CANBERRAKids Macaron Class (6-10 years old)
19/12CANBERRAVegan Christmas macarons- Adults
19/12MELBOURNEFrench Storytime
21/12CANBERRAThe Cheesemonger meets The Winemaker
21/12GOLD COASTTrivia @ Madocke
21/12MELBOURNESt Kilda French Playgroup
21/12MELBOURNEIn pour taste: a comedy wine tasting experience
22/12BRISBANECocktail Masterclass: Gin Classics (Charplie Chaplin & French 75)
22/12MELBOURNECelebration Lunch @ Appartement 26
23/12ADELAIDEThe French Beauty Academy Graduation Ceremony SA
23/12BRISBANECocktail Masterclass: Gin Classics (Charplie Chaplin & French 75)
23/12SYDNEYCabaret La Belle Rose - dinner & Show
24/12SYDNEYLe Marché Willoughby
25/12BRISBANEThe Lab Restaurant - Christmas Day Lunch
25/12MELBOURNEChristmas Day Lunch at Pullman Melbourne City Centre - Taittinger champagne package
25/12PERTHChristmas Day Lunch at Samuels on Mill - Pommery champagne package
25/12SYDNEYChristmas Day Luncheon
28/12MELBOURNESt Kilda French Playgroup
28/12GOLD COASTTrivia @ Madocke
29/12AVOCA BEACH, NSWFrench Soirée with food, Live music from Emma Hamilton & comedy 'Country Cabaret'
31/12ADELAIDENew Years Special Paint & Sip - New Year's Eve in Paris
31/12ADELAIDENew Year's Eve at La Louisiane
31/12BRISBANEWET Deck - New Year's Eve party
31/12MELBOURNEA night in Casablanca
31/12MELBOURNENew Year's Eve at Blossom Rooftop Bar - Taittinger champagne
31/12PERTH2024 NYE C'est La Soiree // Aurora Rooftop Bar
31/12SORRENTO, VICNYE at The Continental Sorrento

As always, if you would like to see your event in a future edition of our What’s on, please email us at matildamarseillaise (at) gmail.com by the end of the month prior to the event.


What are your plans for December?


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