Bertrand Lucien Bruno Cantat (born 5 March 1964) is a French musician best known as frontman for the rock band Noir Désir. In 2003, he was convicted for the murder of Marie Trintignant. He returned to Noir Désir after his release from prison in 2007.
After the band disbanded in 2010, he has taken part in the musical collaboration Chœurs with Wajdi Mouawad project Le Cycle des Femmes: Trois histoires de Sophocle and has formed the duo Détroit with Pascal Humbert who had been also part of the Chœurs project.
Cantat was born in Pau, Pyrénées-Atlantiques. The son of a Navy officer, he spent his childhood in Le Havre. His family moved when he was an adolescent to Bordeaux and at the lycée Saint-Genès he met Denis Barthe, Serge Teyssot-Gay, and Frédéric Vidalenc, who would soon become members of his band. At the end of Cantat's first performance in March 1981, when he was still 16, he threw himself into the crowd and suffered cranial trauma. In 1991 he suffered a black out, and in 1993 he had to undergo an operation on his vocal cords and then follow a series of vocal classes. Self-destructive behaviour, cigarettes and alcohol, had taken a toll.
At the height of Noir Désir's success in the 1990s, he was one of the most prominent figures in French music. His left-wing political views caused him to take a position against globalisation, fascism, desertification of urban areas in Bordeaux and the 2003 invasion of Iraq, among other topics.
Incarceration after death of Marie Trintignant
In 1997 he married Krisztina Rády, with whom he had two children. Milo was born in 1998, and their daughter Alice in 2003.
In 2003, following an argument related to a text message, Cantat repeatedly assaulted his girlfriend Marie Trintignant in a hotel room in Vilnius, Lithuania. She died several days later in hospital in a deep coma, and a post-mortem examination showed she had suffered multiple head injuries. At his 2004 trial, prosecutors said he had hit her 19 times, causing irreversible brain damage, whereas Cantat admitted hitting Trintignant four times, but told the court her death was a tragic accident. He was said to have flown into a jealous rage after she received an affectionate text message from her former husband.
The death of Marie caused considerable emotion in France. Nadine Trintignant, Marie's mother, actively sought a heavy sentence; Cantat's friends claimed he had been out of his mind and had not intended to cause harm. On 29 March 2004, Cantat was sentenced by Vilnius Regional Court under Article 129 of the Lithuanian Criminal Code to eight years in prison for murder committed with indirect intent (dolus eventualis), i.e. it was acknowledged by the court that he didn't want to kill the victim, but foresaw her death as a probable consequence of his acts and was indifferent with regard to such a consequence. The verdict was at first appealed by Marie's family (who wanted to toughen the sentence), then by Bertrand Cantat (who wanted the higher court to reclassify his crime as a manslaughter and lessen his sentence), but both parties ultimately decided to cancel their appeals, which rendered final the original sentence of eight years. On 11 August 2004, while in Vilnius's Lukiškės prison, Cantat performed a concert for the inmates and administration.
At the request of his lawyers, Cantat was moved from a Lithuanian prison to a prison near Muret, France, on 28 September 2004.
Release and musical activity
Cantat was released on parole on 16 October 2007, after serving half of his sentence. His early release aroused the anger of feminist campaigners and the victim’s mother, who had failed to persuade French President Nicolas Sarkozy and French judges to block the early release.
His house in Landes was burned down on 11 September 2003.
His ex-wife Krisztina Rády committed suicide on 10 January 2010, while he was sleeping in the same house.
In October 2010 Cantat resumed his musical career with a gig in Bordeaux. The overwhelmingly positive reception he has received has infuriated feminist and victim support groups. On 30 November 2010, the group announced that it would split up for good and that the era of Noir Désir was over.
After Noir Desir split up
Wajdi Mouawad and Chœurs
In early 2011 Cantat was poised to sing in the production in Montreal of a Sophocles play by his friend Wajdi Mouawad. However, once the media reported on his role there was outrage - with politicians proposing to ban his entry into the country (despite the fact that he should have already been prohibited entry under Canadian law due to his conviction). In April 2011 the artistic director of Théâtre du Nouveau Monde, Lorraine Pintal, announced that he would not be performing.
His new joint album Horizons with Pascal Humbert was released on November 18, 2013. The album is credited to the duo Détroit that includes both Cantat and Humbert and was released on November 18, 2013 on Barclay Records label. The first single, titled "Droit dans le Soleil", was released on September 30, 2013.
- Hugh Schofield (19 November 2013). "French killer Bertrand Cantat's controversial comeback". BBC News. Retrieved 20 November 2013.
- Paris Match No. 2828 6 August 2003
- "Europe | Rock star lover 'lost control'". BBC News. 2004-03-16. Retrieved 2012-03-16.
- "Early release for Bertrand Cantat". The New Zealand Herald. 15 October 2007. Retrieved 12 September 2011.
- "Europe | French singer drops jail appeal". BBC News. 2004-06-23. Retrieved 2012-03-16.
- Post. "The Times | UK News, World News and Opinion". Timesonline.co.uk. Retrieved 2012-03-16.
- lefigaro.fr. "Suicide de l'ex-femme de Cantat (RTL)". Lefigaro.fr. Retrieved 2012-03-15.
- Lizzy Davies in Paris (3 October 2010). "Bertrand Cantat returns to the stage seven years after murdering his girlfriend". Guardian. Retrieved 2012-03-15.
- Convicted killer Bertrand Cantat will not perform in Canada: theatre[dead link]