The French opera singer David Serero was named "Citizen of Honor" and received the Medal of The City of his native town, Chelles, following his concert for the European Heritage Days.
Within the European Heritage Days framework, the baritone David Serero, originally from Chelles (France), gave an exceptional concert. The program included opera arias, Broadway musicals, world music standards, and other surprises, such as comedy moments with the public's participation on stage.
At the concert's end, the Mayor of Chelles, Mr. Brice Rabaste, went on stage to begin a solemn moment of protocol, that of the presentation of the City Medal to David Serero.
The Mayor of Chelles recalled the accomplishments of David Serero in France and, in particular, in New York, where he resides. He presented him with the Medal of the City of Chelles and named him "Citizen of Honor of the City of Chelles."
David Serero thanked Mr. Rabaste and did not hesitate to evoke, moved to tears, his childhood in Chelles, hoping for the American dream. He chose to dedicate this honor to his parents, present in the theater, and to express his love for his brother, sister, and the people of Chelles.
Mayor Rabaste responded to the call launched by David Serero in "Le Parisien" (a major daily newspaper of France, in which David Serero did the cover on that same day) about him building an Opera Festival in Chelles. The public was delighted with the idea, and David Serero will carry out this project with the City of Chelles.
Here is the transcribed speech of the Mayor of Chelles and that of David Serero:
Mr. Mayor of Chelles, Brice Rabaste: Ladies and Gentlemen elected officials of Chelles, Ladies, and Gentlemen, Dear Chellois, dear friends, dear David Serero. I wanted to thank you and congratulate you on behalf of the entire municipal council of Chelles for this superb performance. You offered us this service this evening, I thank you once again. We couldn't let you leave our city without giving you the city's medal. This medal of honor on this stage where you started in 2008 in this city where you grew up.
It is a symbol for the European Heritage Days because you have performed many songs for us, which are part of the immemorial French European heritage. You said earlier that you love this city where you grew up and which allowed you to build yourself in a certain way. But it is also these walls, these stones, these roads, these buildings, which have a history, a soul that they manage to transmit in a certain way with those, of course, that they compose it. Like this room that perhaps gave you the fire to perform today in shows worldwide. This medal of the city that we give you is to a child of Chelles whom he had said many times, it goes straight to our hearts because it is we feel that it is sincere, always funny, but always heartfelt. We wanted to distinguish you today.
May I speak a little about you? You may not know, but we were born in the same year. But you still look younger. My father said that it was a good year, obviously, yes, you were born on April 22, 1981, and me on December 24, so I am a little younger. You grew up, from what I know, in the Bicard area, then later in the area closer to rue du Docteur Spadotto. You went to Jules Ferry, standard in the city's south, and then to Weczerka. You have indeed mentioned the importance of the school years in this college. We salute Madame Perroto, who remembered you well. Her husband they are very active in the life of our commune. Like Chelles, people also remain, especially in national education, they are very involved in the success of our children. That's what happened to you. You quoted your professor Jacques Bunner. That's what was the meeting of your musical life. I take this opportunity to tell you again that we recently opened a new music conservatory called Jacques Higelin because he also grew up in Chelles. He was born in Brou-Sur-Chantereine, like you. He did his first shows at the Salle Albert Caillou, which you must know, which is in the center of Chelles, not far from Weczerka. We wanted to testify to the fact of the city's recognition for its action for a conservatory to show also because it is the transmission of knowledge, and Jacques Higelin was a symbol. So we may have a conservatory in your name one day, but not right away!
It was the first time that you discovered music, a shock. I was told that the first time you had to play Cyrano de Bergerac was also in school.
If I may, I want to talk a bit about your track record or career. Because your career is brilliant. I think she still deserves to be better known here, especially in Chelles, since it's crucial, even if we've already talked about you, and I took note of the front page of Le Parisien. You show your affection for Chelles, but I think it's essential that we talk about it today for those who have traveled and who, in my opinion, like me, had a great time. You have performed nearly 2,500 concerts and performances worldwide, acted in more than 100 films and television series, and played 50 leading roles in opera, theater, and musicals. You've recorded 50 albums, so we've seen various musical styles. You are a baritone, so the
opera, which you know mainly, and the beautiful jazz passages make it possible to please everyone. In particular, you had a great collaboration with Jermaine Jackson in 2013.
You have just realized one of your dreams, a project of great importance that was close to your heart: to obtain the rights to the musical The Ten Commandments, to adapt it and produce it on Broadway. We have a thought for Daniel Levi. You played the central role of Moses there.
You made us dream a little today, and I would quote Jacques Brel, who said: I believe that we only achieve one thing, we achieve our dreams. And I think that goes well with your life as a kid. Because I was told that you had hung up pictures of New York while dreaming a little of this American city in your room. Despite your success across the Atlantic, you still have this thought for Chelles. If we continue on your track record, you have many distinctions. We will not quote them all today, but I will mention a few if you allow me. In 2019, you received the Albert Nelson Marquis Prize and the Moroccan Culture Trophy. I have the impression that you are also attached to Morocco.
Including a gift you made of Judaica artwork. This is the largest private donation of Judaica art made to a Moroccan museum. It deserves to be underlined because we know that it can be seen in your career, all the work and the attention you give to the public, to causes, and to culture in general often comes out. In 2020, the UNESCO Diversity Trophy was awarded to you. In 2021 you will receive four BroadwayWorld Awards, including Best Performer of the Decade, Best Producer of a Musical, Best Producer of a Play, and Best Opera Singer of the Year.
You become the first non-American to receive the distinction of the best performer at the BroadwayWorld Awards. The year after the covid, you were nominated six times in four categories for the prestigious Recording Academy of the Grammy Awards. In 2021, the New York City Certificate of Recognition was awarded to you by the Mayor of New York. Today, it is “only” the Mayor of Chelles and a little piece of metal that we will give you this evening.
In any case, it is a great honor for us to be able to reward your career, your talent, and your international commitment, also in favor of causes that are close to your heart, by very symbolically presenting you with this medal from the city of Chelles that you share of course with all those who I imagine have traveled with you in Chelles, or elsewhere.
It is for us, great pride, you know. I think it's essential, I'm serious. Our period needs beautiful examples of symbols of success. You mentioned your schooling, this stroke of genius, this discovery that changed your life. I think it's vital that we can say together that success is possible of course, it is not automatic. There is talent and a lot of work. You made us laugh a lot today, but everyone knows very well that behind this relaxed air, it's a lot of work involving sacrifices on different aspects that deserve to be rewarded. We need this society of example to reward merit, effort, talent, desire, courage, and determination. That's why we're proud to give you this medal today, and I've taken note, I'll end there. You called on us in Le Parisien, I think we have things to do together, and we will do them, I hope. We can applaud David Serero.
Réponse de David Serero:
Mayor Brice Rabaste was very kind in referring to the equivalent of the city medal in New York, the Award of Recognition, which I received from the Mayor of New York, Mr. Bill de Blasio. In the speech I gave when I received this award, the first thing I thought of, in fact, the speech was transcribed, was a thought for Chelles. I said it's a long journey...
...From those walls, you talked about where there was New York City. And I discovered later that the posters weren't even about New York, we had bought them from Barbès. I thought it was New York, but it was Chicago. I tell you honestly, for me, nothing comes close to the reward you are giving me today. Because that's where it all started. I was sitting, I believe, around there when I saw a show at the Théâtre de Chelles. Besides, I still have the vinyl of the show, and I told my mother that one day I was showing on this stage, and I did it for the first time in 2008.
I have a thought for all those middle school teachers when you're a child, you don't like it because they give you homework, but we're in a time when it's essential to pay tribute to all those teachers who give you all their energy for you.
I have a thought for Jacques Brunner, my music teacher, and the Police of Chelles, and the Firefighters of Chelles. My friend David Kadoche who is there, who is a director and who is filming the concert, whom I have known from Chelles for nearly 30 years.
I would like to do something, if possible. I had several awards and dedicated them to several people, but I never had the opportunity to pay tribute to my parents. I would like to invite them on stage.
I want to thank my mother, who, against my will, put me at the Conservatory when I was little, but I really thank her from the bottom of my heart, so thank you.
And my father, when he arrived from Morocco to become, you wouldn't say, but he is Moroccan. When he came from Morocco, my father had a good idea to move to Chelles. He has always worked very, very, very hard so that we don't miss anything. To have a roof over our heads and food on our plates. He always wanted to do with my mother the best for Chelles and always respected people, so I have a powerful thought for them that I ask you to please applaud. I have a thought for my little brother and sister, whom I immensely love and embrace. Ladies and gentlemen, my parents, are for hire if you're interested (Laughs).
My mother called me this afternoon and said, “don't forget to say it was me who put you in the Conservatory” (Laughs).
Thank you again from the bottom of my heart, and I can tell you that to receive a medal from a city like the city of Chelles is extraordinary. Of course, to receive it from a mayor is extraordinary. But from this Mayor, I can tell you it is a priceless gift.
I dream one day of doing an opera festival in Chelles, I take care of everything from A to Z. I want to do an opera festival in Chelles. Because opera is generous, it is to be opened to others, it is diverse, and these qualities are similar to all citizens of Chelles. So I hope to see you here in Chelles next summer for the opera festival.
Mr. Mayor: They agree, I believe.
David Serero (to the audience): Are you excited about it?