Jane Birkin sings Serge Gainsbourg with OSM

A quarter century after the death of French singer Serge Gainsbourg, his former partner and muse, Jane Birkin, sings a show of his best songs set to music for the Orchestre symphonique de Montréal.

25 years after Serge Gainsbourg's death, Jane Birkin sings his songs

Serge Gainsbourg, right, with Jane Birkin, in a scene from the documentary Gainsbourg: L'homme qui amait les femmes. (Roger Voillet)

One of the iconic French couples of la chanson française will be celebrated at the FrancoFolies.

Jane Birkin sings Serge Gainsbourg with the OSM on the 25th anniversary of Gainsbourg's death.

The British actor met Gainsbourg when she agreed to audition for the French movie Slogan.

"When I got to the studio this disagreeable man was there very cold, a sort of dandy," Birkin said. 

"[I said] 'You didn't say Hello.' He said 'That's because I couldn't care less.''"

That man was Serge Gainsbourg and that meeting changed her life.

The couple spent ten years together, had a daughter, Charlotte, who is now an actress, and recorded many songs including Je t'aime moi non plus.

"I loved being in France. I loved working with French people. I just stayed on and on."

Serge's slang

Birkin is still modest about her spoken French.

"I speak it so badly it's sort of ridiculous," she says. "I started off with Serge's slang. It made people laugh. I had to pull my socks up when I did Marivaux." 

That was in 1985 in Birkin's theatre debut with French actor Michel Piccoli in a production directed by Patrice Chéreau.

Gainsbourg symphonique

From left to right, Jane Birkin, Arthur H who is set to perform the complete Melody Nelson album by Serge Gainsbourg, and OSM conductor Simon Leclerc.

Now Birkin is in Montreal for two performances of a new symphonic concert version of Gainsbourg's hits with the Orchestre symphonique de Montréal conducted by Simon Leclerc. 

After the Montreal première she will tour in Europe and to Shanghai with Gainsbourg symphonique