“From where the night shines” at the Comédie-Française, a nice musical show on the complicated relationships of Molière and Lully


Eric Ruf, the administrator of the Comédie-Française, commissions a show from Yoann Gasiorowski on Molière and Lully, who have collaborated eleven times if we counted correctly, texts and music, comedies-ballets, the most famous being The bourgeois gentleman. “But I don’t know anything about baroque music”, exclaims Gasiorowski, to whom we point out a musician, Vincent Leterme, rather versed… in contemporary music!

From this hitch comes a very nice show, around six actors and two musicians on stage, which talks to us about music, dance, Molière, a king to whom nothing is refused, the spirit of the troupe, popular songs, small joys and melancholy. This, in a somewhat messy “trestle theatre” spirit, jumping from rooster to donkey but which, in the end (and we will have often laughed), treats with finesse these acrobats of yesterday and today Today, those of yesterday, and it is a success of Gasiorowski who also signs a text full of qualities, appearing so close to those of today that one ends up confusing them.

That’s also the goal, but in a beautifully burlesque way. From a cupboard, from a large trunk, we take out a wig, a feathered hat, a gored dress: everyone is one of the protagonists and sometimes themselves. Elsa Lepoivre is Madeleine Béjart; Birane Ba, a young black actor, puts on a blond wig to embody Molière (comic effect guaranteed). Elissa Alloula is Lully (Italian with swearing included), Claïna Clavaron Armande (pretty scenes of tenderness between Madeleine and Armande, sorry, between Elsa and Claina), Serge Bagdassarian a bit of everything (and especially Mademoiselle Hilaire, actress), Gasiorowski reserving the role of the naive, confusing dates, places, musical instruments (“this guitar… no, it’s a theorbo, a kind of long-necked lute, 1 meter 45 long”, replies Nicolas Wattine, an excellent musician who makes a duet -and some spoken interventions- with Cécile Vérolles, the violinist).

"From where the night shines - Molière Lully impromptu musical" at the Studio Theater of the Comédie-Française (VINCENT PONTET, coll. Comédie-Française.)

‘Cause there’s music obviously – it’s called musical impromptu- and not only by Lully but also popular songs of the time, some of which we still know. We know that the Comédiens-Français are very versatile; and we enjoy their little choir where the voices and rhythms are so right. This is less true when they are solo (Bagdassarian and Claina Clavaron, lovely voices, do the best) but baroque music is difficult with its incessant semitones that you have to hold on to slow tunes. As for Elissa Alloula, she puts incredible energy into the rhythmic songs, in Italian.

In the middle of this story which begins with a bang (Louis XIV, 23, absolutely wanting to be a dancer at Fouquet’s reception, Molière is obliged to write The annoying in five days, without forgetting to “sew” there ballet entries in the middle of the intrigues of the comedy). Suddenly the rhythm is interrupted and we are witnessing a beautiful conversation, very well written and not at all didactic, on the major arts, theatre, music and dance, and the way in which they confront or harmonize: because, for example, unlike painting which has only one dimension, they must be inscribed in space and time (“Tragedy is acted out as much as it is said. and need smugglers, dancers, actors and musicians, otherwise they wouldn’t exist. A reflection of a time, that of the Sun King, when, thanks to him who knew how to surround himself with geniuses, artistic creation took an unparalleled leap…

The prettiest scene, however, is pure theatre, where the actors of the troupe, seated on a trunk, mime a night journey, shivering with cold and the jolting of the stagecoach. And they sing, while white confetti thrown on them imitate the powdering snow. It is the pure spirit of the commedia dell’arte which inspired Molière, and this time without Lully, in Deceits of Scapin.

We won’t tell you (even if it’s in all the biographies) how the two Jean-Baptistes fell out (the music of the Imaginary illness will be composed by the young Marc-Antoine Charpentier) and a thousand other things. But we will finally praise this joyful complicity that we feel in these three generations of actors, a sign of a real troupe spirit where the happiness of the exchange radiates. Sharing with us this maxim taken from a song of the time: “Let us think only of rejoicing / Pleasure is the big business”.

“Where the Night Shines From”, text and direction by Yoann Gasiorowski
Studio-Theater of the Comédie-Française
Wednesday to Sunday at 6:30 p.m.
Until March 6.



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