The Links Project



On this page we will present memories of, and interviews with people that at either stage had a part in the project. This can be any reciter, traveler, host, sponsor, or member.

De-TelegraafHere we focus on one of the persons without whom The Links Project would not have been completed, Murielle Lucie Clément. Herself a poet, writer, composer and soprano, she accompanied the poet from Vladivostok to Yekaterinburg, all the way through Siberia. They met in a Xerox copy shop in Amsterdam. The poet was copying invitations for an exhibition, Murielle flyers for an opera performance. The poet liked opera; Murielle spoke Russian... they decided then and there to go to Siberia together. There was just one little problem: Murielle wanted to go to Siberia on horseback. The poet agreed. He started his first horse-riding lesson, outdoors, on January 1, 1993, in a snowstorm... Before leaving, Muriel and the poet actually gave interviews on horseback, among others to The Telegraph, which newspaper published a terrific picture of the two with horse.

About a week before departure, the poet presented Muriel with her ticket to the Transsib: riding horses wasn't a problem for the poet after 6 months of lessons, but film cameras weren't exactly as robust as rifles in a John Wayne movie. The equipment wouldn't survive the first mile. It was the Transsib to Vladivostok, and then go back village by village by whatever means presented itself: train, local train, bus, car, hitch hiking or mule, it made no difference, as long as it didn't move by galloping... Murielle came through, she stood by the poet from Vladivostok up until Yekaterinburg, and published a marvelous French language book about their trip, titled 'Muriel et René en Siberie'!


Murielle-lucieA French operatic soprano who accompanied the poet al through Siberia

The multitalented Murielle Lucie Clément, French by origin, living in the Netherlands the past twenty years, Soprano and life artist collaborated on the organization and execution of the Siberian lap of the Links project in 1995. Aside from other initiatives concerning financing she also sold her household effects for this purpose.

What fascinated you to make you go so far?

'Russia fascinates me, I worked there almost two-and-a-half years and discovered that Russia has culture. It is not the state's, it resides within the people and that is very unusual. Russia straddles the borders of two worlds and in the best people that is sublimated. This works in two directions. It is a land of extremes. You see that mirrored in the history and you see it on the street. A Russian views life as a chess game. He nurtures problems because he knows like no other people that very little can be solved. Siberia has always exerted a magical attraction on me. I met René on a Friday afternoon in an Amsterdam copyrette and was fascinated by his project. When it turned out that I spoke Russian he invited me to go to Siberia with him. I immediately said 'yes', we began working together and in May 1995 we travelled to Siberia. Siberia was fabulous. The vast space alone, and then with such a bizarre project doing something impossible. I did it because nobody else could do it. And the fact that it succeeded almost makes it as beautiful as an opera...'

Murielle BaikalIt seems like an unexpected combination, since you are actually an opera singer?

'I am myself: Murielle. I serve my dreams. As a girl of fifteen I already knew that I would write when I was about fifty. At thirty I decided to live in such a way as to give me something to write about. Siberia fits into that. But music runs like a red thread through every­thing else. That fascination with music is in my family. My grandma was a singer, my grandpa a conductor and the famous French tenor Edmond Clément was my great uncle. One day I discovered that I too had a voice. I explored it. But I have never forgotten my other talents and especially in opera a melting pot of artistic and organizational facets play a role. I sing, give singing lessons, direct, compose and write, but I also organize concerts and productions. In 1987, I established Operalab, because until then The Netherlands had no stage for young singers to familiarize themselves with roles.'

Murielle-et-ReneWhat productions have you done with Operalab?

'A great variety, from Bizets' Carmen to Lully's Armide, from Verdi's Traviata through Menotti's Consul. I have also done children's operas and organized concerts with Russian and Polish singers, with whom I performed portions of Tchaikovski's Pique Dame at 'De Duif' in Amsterdam. But the high point was my production of Carmen in Moscow, where the work was performed in the French language for the first time. I also recorded my first CD in Moscow. I wanted to document my voice, since it is the only voice I have and is very dear to me.'

What have you been doing since The Links Project?

'Since The Links Project, I composed a new opera, Les Soleils immobiles, La Folle Baisure, and Aliénor. Then I played the title role in the movie/theater production 'Mère Folle'. In addition, I have written about a dozen new books, among them 'Sibérie, entretiens au quotidien', for which I revisited the original places that we had traveled through with The Links Project, extending the line up to Kamchatka. The book features more than 100 interviews with people of all social ranks. From the worker to the surgeon, the priest to the prostitute, the murderer to the mayor, all answered with an open heart, providing valuable information about what it means to be Siberian today. If you wish to see 'Sibérie, entretiens au quotidien' as a continuation of the original thought of The Links Project, than I'm honored. However, the book was not written about a later journey to Siberia. About the 1993 Links Project journey with the poet, I published another book, titled 'Murielle et René en Sibérie'. Traveling with the poet through Siberia was fascinating. Russia was in turmoil, so short past the fall of the Berlin Wall. We made it though, and if I am to believe the poet, that that was not in the last place because of me! Only when I returned I realized how much I loved Siberia. I started thinking about revisiting it and ultimately this resulted in my book. The alter trips were not on horse back though. Riding horse in Siberia is one of the most fascinating experiences I've ever had with horses, but for the long distance the poet was perhaps not altogether wrong.'

Visit Murielle's Website here


Before listing Murielle's other books, we need to put to the foreground her two books on Siberia, one base don het trip with the poet, 'Murielle et René en Siberie' from 1995, and 'Sibérie, entretiens au quotidien' from 2002, which features Muriel's observations made during her trip with the poet of The Links Project, and interviews she did with all sorts of people during a later trip that took her all the way to Kamchatka.


Murielle et René en Siberie (2007)


Sibérie, entretiens au quotidien (2002)


2002 – Anthologie de la chanson enfantine
2000 – Odyssée de la Lumière et du Temps
1998 – Aliénor, un opéra exposé
1997 – Tchaikovsky romances

1997 – Tchaikovsky romances


Snova, kak prezhde adin (Alone, as before)

CD Currently sold out

1994 – Airs d'opéra français et italiens


Gounod: Faust
Il était un roi de Thulé

CD Currently sold out

1996 Sketches of Chess


World premiere November 9, 1996
Nieuwe de la Mar Theater, Amsterdam
Composed by Murielle Lucie Clément
Libretto based on a chess match between
Ljubomir Ljubojevic and Gary Kasparov from 1987
(SWIFT Blitz tournament, Brussels)

[White "Ljubomir Ljubojevic"]
[Black "Gary Kasparov"] 

Murielle Lucie–Clément: Sketches of Chess
Opening scene

CD Currently sold out



Mère Folle

Mere-folleMurielle plays the title role, Matthew Wright is TS Eliot, John Neubauer Ludwig WittgensteinThe Feature disc has the release version of the film, with subtitles in six languages: French, Finnish, Dutch, Spanish, English, and Russian.

The "Extras" disc includes an introduction to the project, as well as a "making of" featurette. Also, there is a conversation between Marja (Sissi) and Marjo (Sissi's analyst) about Sissi's case. This is paired by an enlightening dialogue about acting in multiple roles, as well as a piece that develops the analogy between music and psychoanalysis, and two more reflections on madness. The disc also includes several short scenes that didn't make it into the final film.

The DVD can be ordered here




Muriele Lucie Clément published a plenitude of books since she reuturned from the Siberian part of The Links Project, all of which can be found and ordered here