Bruni Sprinkles French Stardust, Romance on Tel Aviv

Carla Bruni-Sarkozy – ex-supermodel, wife of former French president and singer – surprises locals with a strong voice and impressive presence.

Gideon Markovich

While the results of the election for the European Parliament were announced, along with the victory of Marine Le Pen's party in France, former French President Nicholas Sarkozy was far away from the cruel political arena. His wife – singer and former supermodel Carla Bruni-Sarkozy – was performing at the time, on Sunday, on the stage of the Habima theater in Tel Aviv. She was singing French love songs, and he was seated near the front. Although he received thunderous applause when he entered a moment before the beginning of the performance, the evening belonged entirely to Carla.

Bruni-Sarkozy, 46, looked at first glance like a silhouette projected on stretched fabric, something like the animated figure of Jessica Rabbit. She made her way onto the stage with a sensuality that prevailed throughout the concert. (Rapper Mike Skinner of The Streets once dedicated a song to the special moments when a singer like Bruni-Sarkozy whispers, flirts, apologizes and caresses the audience between and during the songs. Skinner's song is called Fit But You Know It, and it was written about a girl who looks great and knows it, too.)

Before an audience composed mainly of French Jews, she played guitar during some of the songs, and was accompanied by two instrumentalists on guitar, keyboard and trumpet. As opposed to what one hears in her recorded material, Bruni-Sarkozy proved that she has a strong, even somewhat coarse voice, and great presence.

In her comments and presentation, she included tributes to Edith Piaf and Serge Gainsbourg, and dedicated several songs to deceased friends. She also dedicated a song to lovers, asked anyone in love to hold hands (the couple next to me obeyed immediately), and sang a song to Sarkozy, who was sitting in the fourth row.

After two encores and bows, the lights in the auditorium went on and Sarkozy – surrounded by cellular devices and flashes – also waved to the audience that embraced Carla. This further helped to create the feeling that the evening was a kind of closed event of a royal family, with intimate friends and admirers.

Outside Habima, a crowd had gathered of dozens of fans, journalists and locals, who also wanted to have a quick glance at the singing beauty. First, her famous guitar and her stage outfit, including a red jacket and fitted black leather pants, were placed carefully by a security guard in the trunk of one of the black vehicles waiting outside.

Only after about half an hour did Bruni-Sarkozy herself emerge. She was beaming with happiness as she approached the crowd, which photographed her with mobile phones; she spoke to some of those present and was greeted affectionately in French.

It was evident that she knows how to scatter Parisian stardust with impressive skill. Au revoir, she waved with a smile before entering the armored car. Carla was simply wonderful, said an elegant woman in designer clothes who also photographed Bruni-Sarkozy as her car drove away. From the back window you could still see the singer's white face and broad smile.