Isabella Rossellini on the outrageous love life of animals.

Bestiaire d’amour

Isabella Rossellini

You are looking at a performance from our archive

The favourite position of the worm, what a female duck can do with her vagina and how the dolphin will use all orifices available: these and other saucy facts about the love life of the animals are brought to light in Bestiaire d’amour.
With her light, dry wit Isabella Rossellini delivers a theatrical seminar dealing with lust, love, motherhood, sex and procreation right down to their outlandish and surreal details. Rossellini illustrates her story with a number of short videos from the Green Porno series which she made for the Sundance Channel.
From a mating dance to a tournament fight, from orgies to gangbangs and from infanticide to moments of great intimacy and tenderness: sometimes you’d forget she’s talking about animals.
Programme Icoon

‘Fascinating, a testament to nature’s amazing variety.’

The New York Times about Green Porno

Background Information

The Italian actress and model Isabella Rossellini (1952), famous for the roles she played in David Lynch's Blue Velvet (1986) and Wild at Heart (1990), visits the Holland Festival this year with a lighthearted

and witty performance, which is part seminar, part stand-up, about the often peculiar love life of animals. Bestiaire d’amour is Rossellini's theatrical version of her online hit Green Porno, a series of funny short films about animals and their sexual habits, which she, an avid nature lover and amateur biologist, conceived, wrote, directed and played in herself. Originally produced on the request of the actor and director Rober Redford to feature at his Sundance Film Festival and subsequently aired on the online Sundance Channel, Green Porno turned out to be a huge success, winning a Webby Award in 2009.

Dressed up in a fantastic array of animal costumes and performing against a brightly coloured paper and paste set (both costumes and set were designed by Jody Shapiro and Rick Gilbert), Rossellini takes the viewer along probing the wonderful mating habits of animals such as the dragonfly, spider, bee, praying mantis, worm, snail and firefly. She underpins her absurdist, understated humour, her animations and visual jokes with scientific fact and she makes the inevitable comparison with the sex life of the strangest animal on earth: man. Rossellini made a number of sequels to the series, focusing in more recent episodes on marine animals, including the series Bon Appetit, which dealt with overfishing and its dramatic effect on the reproduction of sea life. Other Green Porno sequels were the series Seduce Me (2010), in which she examined the strange mating rituals in the animal world, and Mammas (2013), dealing with maternal instincts. With Bestiaire d'amour, Rossellini has translated her shows to the stage, combining a number of these animal themes into a theatrical form.

To create Bestiaire d'amour, Rossellini teamed up with the writer Jean-Claude Carrière and the director Muriel Mayette of the Comédie Française. Dressed completely in black, she delivers a theatrical seminar dealing with the love games of spiders, dolphins, insects, hamsters and other animals right down to their outlandish and surreal details. She discusses all manner of lust, orgies, fights, killings of partners and babies, rape, the most incredible mating rituals and acrobatic sex positions as well as moments of great intimacy and tenderness. 'The butterfly can sense his or her lover from a mile away,' says Rossellini, 'whereas people can sometimes be blind to each other from a few feet.'

Rossellini's performance is supported by six or seven video excerpts from Green Porno, illustrating her story dressed as a fly, a duck, a squid or an insect. Initially intended to be a one-off show, Bestiaire d'amour premiered in June 2013 at the festival Printemps de Comédie in the French city of Montpellier. However, it proved such a huge success, that the show embarked on a world wide tour, visiting France, the United States, England and Australia; with the Holland Festival having the Dutch premiere.




The actress and model Isabella Rossellini (Rome, 1952) rose to international stardom with her roles in David Lynch's Blue Velvet and Wild at Heart and Robert Zemeckis' Death Becomes Her, as well as

being the face of leading cosmetics brand Lancôme from 1982 until 1996. The daughter of Swedish film diva and Oscar winner Ingrid Bergman and the Italian neo-realist film director Roberto Rossellini, she grew up in Rome and Paris, eventually settling in New York. Working as a translator and American correspondent for the Italian public broadcaster RAI, she made her screen debut in 1976, in Vincente Minelli' A Matter of Time. In 1986 she rose to fame with her depiction of the troubled night club singer Dorothy Vallens in David Lynch's Blue Velvet, which won her an Independent Spirit Award a year later. In 2010, she starred in Saverio Costanzo´s La solitudine dei numeri primi. She made her debut as a screen writer in 2005, with the short film My Father Is 100 Years Old, an ode to her own father.

When actor and director Robert Redford asked her to make a series for his Sundance Festival and the online Sundance Channel in 2008, combining her love of animals, environmental activism and her fascination for biology, she came up with Green Porno, a series of short films on the sex life of animals. The series was awarded a Webby in 2009, the success leading to a number of sequels, including Seduce Me (2010), Bon Appetit! (2010) and Mammas (2013), and the spin-off documentary Animals Distract Me (2011). Bestiaire d’amour is Rossellini's second theatre production, following The Stendhal Syndrome in 2004. As well as her creative work, Rossellini is also involved in environmental campaigning and social justice, being a member of the board of the Wildlife Conservation Network and chairman and director of the Howard Gilman Foundation, an organisation which focuses on conservation and the promotion of the arts of photography and dance. In addition, she is involved with The Nature Conservancy and the training of guide dogs and she has been National Ambassador of the United States Fund for UNICEF since 2003.


The French writer, director and actor Jean-Claude Carrière (Colombières-sur-Orb, 1931) has been working in various creative capacities for more than fifty years, including writing for film icons such as Jacques Tati, Pierre Etaix and Luis Buñuel, with whom he made six films. Carrière was also involved in Milos Foreman's Taking Off (1971) and Valmont (1989), Volker Schlöndorff's Die Blechtrommel (1979), Jacques Deray's La Piscine (1969) and Borsalino (1970) and Michael Haneke's recent masterpiece Das Weisse Band (2009). In 1988 he adapted Milan Kundera's novel The Unbearable Lightness of Being for director Philip Kaufman's film. In the theatre, he has been working closely with the legendary director Peter Brook on various projects over the course of 34 years, including the staging of Persian poet's Farid Al-Din Attar Conference of the Birds (1177) in 1979 and Brook's monumental staging of the Sanskrit epic The Mahabharata in 1985. As well as for the big screen and the theatre, Carrière has also written for television, including twelve films for television, three of which, including La Controverse de Valladolid (1992), were awarded with the French prize Sept d'Or. Having made his debut in 1957 with his novel Lézard, Carrière has continued writing fiction throughout his life, as well as opera librettos and song lyrics, his latest novel being Désorde in 2012.



Isabella Rossellini, Jean-Claude Carrière
artistic guidance
Murial Mayette
lighting design and video
Antoine Manichon
English translation
Julia Groopman
performed by
Isabella Rossellini
Les Visiteurs du Soir

This performance was made possible with support by