Saturday, March 05, 2011

Sublime silliness

After a discussion on Poulenc's Gloria in the midst of last night's piano lesson (Uttoxeter Choral Society and Sandbach Voices are performing it next week), I spent this morning with Poulenc's Les Mamelles de Tirésias

Written in the midst of the occupation of France in the 1940's Poulenc sets words of Guillaume Apollaire. This YouTube clip is from the first act. It gets madder - here's the wikipedia summary of part of act two:
The curtain rises to cries of "Papa!" The husband's project has been a spectacular success, and he has given birth to 40,049 children in a single day. A visiting Parisian journalist asks how he can afford to feed the brood, but the husband explains that the children have all been very successful in careers in the arts, and have made him a rich man with their earnings. After chasing the journalist off, the husband decides to raise a journalist of his own, but is not completely pleased with the results.
..and ends with a call for the audience to go and produce children:
Ecoutez, ô Français, les leçons de la guerre
Et faites des enfants, vous qui n'en faisiez guère
Cher public: faites des enfants!

I was introduced to this piece in the 1970's - at Cambridge - where a theatre group performed this with Stravinsky's Soldier's Tale. I went to see it twice - in part because it was so enjoyable partly because on the first visit I ended up sitting behind a tourist couple who thought they were here to see the Cambridge Footlights and were somewhat surprised at what they were served up with! They were rather restless so I got a far better chance the next night with various of the performers appearing from among the audience. On the Footlights connection - could Monty Python have appeared without some of these surreal pieces of French humour - I'm also thinking of Zazie. There appear to be quite a few film clips from various performances of this work on youTube.
Probably not suitable watching for International Women's day later this week!

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