référence : http://listes.cru.fr/arc/mascarene/1999-12/msg00000.html

Re: Le Bourgeois gentilhomme a Berkeley Steve Fleck

Suite a la gentille demande d'Andre Bourassa, j'offre à la liste le bref 
compte-rendu d'une représentation du _Bourgeois gentilhomme_ par Les 
Arts Florissants. N'ayant pas le temps de le traduire en français, je 
dois l'offrir en son anglais originel avec mes excuses envers le 
caractère francophone de cette liste.  Il s'agit en tout cas du point de 
vue d'un moliériste, étudiant de la comédie-ballet en tant que genre, et 
soucieux donc de l'équilibre entre les arts qui nourrissait ce genre si 
spécial, si court de durée historique, si brillant - et si vulnérable au 
déséquilibre entre ses éléments esthétiques constitutifs....  

Steve Fleck

Les Arts Florissants in Berkeley

Les Arts Florissants¹ adaptation of _Le Bourgeois gentilhomme_ performed 
Nov. 19 in Berkeley achieved the remarkable historical feat of making 
Louis XIV¹s actions of 1672 apply retroactively to 1670: it sacrificed 
Molière to Lully all over.  Reversing the typical resection of the 
Florentine¹s music in favor of staging ³Molière,² the performance 
demonstrated that however fine the musical performance (and, as one 
would expect, it was very fine indeed), lopsided favoring of either 
Molière¹s or Lully¹s contributions at the expense of the other¹s doth 
not a first-rate _ Bourgeois_ yield. 
Such a result should not be as difficult to produce as the combination 
of two radically incompatible elements, bourgeois and gentilhomme.  
Molière and Lully, after all, _collaborated_ until their break.  A 
production faithful to the nature of this collaboration might remember 
Henry Prunière¹s observation that the comedy-ballet genre needed their 
entire collective, sustained genius to arrive at full fruition.  
In Berkeley, the music was performed impeccably by singers and band 
(save only the reduction of the indicated ³grand assemblage 
d¹instruments² to a mostly one-instrumentalist-per-part ensemble).  But 
the play-text was revised to allow two actors to impersonate or resume 
all speaking role material, with an occasional assist fom helpful 
singers.  One imagines that the imperatives of touring with limited 
subsidy dictated this choice, with the concomitant reduction of the 
play-text to bits of dialogue and narrated plot fillings-in.  This was 
handled at times brilliantly, at times frustratingly by an actor and 
actress aiming for the most part at a West End audience, with accents 
ranging from Cockney to Knightsbridge to something rather like Tennessee 
Williams.  This mid Atlantic compromise at times risked drowning in a 
Titanic chaos of impersonation.  Jourdain¹s role¹s _vis comica_ was 
dissipated, for instance, by the single actor¹s need to jump in and out 
of other roles: maîtres, Cléonte, Covielle, Dorante.  The actress 
charged with conveying the roles of Nicole, Mme Jourdain, and Lucile was 
overtaxed, and lapsed into sometimes semi-intelligible screeching in 
order to differentiate characters.  M. Jourdain¹s verbal, musical, 
choreographic and gestural bumbling, while effectively suggested in the 
first act and momentarily in the Cérémonie Turque, was elsewhere reduced 
to narrated snippets with the occasional gestured flourish. Why a normal 
tuxedo on M. Jourdain¹s normal frame should occasion Nicole¹s _fou rire_ 
and Mme Jourdain¹s ridicule was one point left unmotivated.  Although 
the adaptation did indeed give a Œflavor¹ of the original, overall it 
left one hungering for the original. 
	Three dancers tried valiantly too to convey some notion of the 
fantastic range of choreographic forms written into the work, but did 
not fail to inject some Motown-era frugging and echt international-style 
high-fives for added _alegria_.  
	The efforts proffered in Berkeley too often resembled a Thanksgiving 
dish selected from the gastronomic diversity of Telegraph Avenue, but 
with insufficiently coherent execution: Jeremy Sams¹s sometimes 
brilliant, sometimes overly clever adaptation could, indeed, have used a 
Damis to adjust the balance.  As executed, the dish remained a bit 
undercooked, the roux meant to combine the various ingredients failed to 
hold.  Despite some very beautiful singing and instrumental work, with 
some very acute comic acting, therefore, one still awaits a three-star 
consummation of comedy, music, and ballet...