Jean-Baptiste Lully: “Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme” / Gustav Leonhardt, La Petite Bande, etc.
“Dom Juan ou le Festin de pierre (Don Juan or The Feast of Stone)”, “L’Avare (The Miser)”, “Les Fourberies de Scapin (The Tricks of Scapin)”, “Le Médecin malgré lui (The Physician in spite of himself)”, “Le Malade imaginaire (The Imaginary Sickness)”, “Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme (The Bourgeois Gentleman)” etc., etc., etc. I read these works by Molière in the Iwanami paperbacks. Among them, “Le Malade imaginaire” and “Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme” have “notes” here and there about musics, and as I read them, I wondered what kind of music they were and wished to listen to them. So when I heard Gustav Leonhardt’s “Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme (excerpt)”, I was very much impressed. I think this was the first time I came into contact with Lully’s music. Nowadays, there is a DVD of this comedy ballet performed by Vincent Dumestre (conductor) and Le Poème Harmonique / Musica Florea, where you can see the entire performance.
Mr. Jourdain is a snobbish bourgeois who is tired of money and wants to imitate the aristocracy. He is surrounded by music teacher, dance teacher, Fencing teacher, philosophers, and others who want to “take advantage” of him. He tries to acquire the “culture” that an aristocrat must have from these teachers, but none of them can satisfy him. The teachers, while scornful of Mr. Jourdain behind his back, flatter him for his money. It is truly hilarious. When Mr. Jourdain tries to go out in the city wearing new clothes made by a tailor, he is laughed at by the maids and criticized by his wife. Count Dorante is a scoundrel who borrows money from Mr. Jourdain and then pays it off to his mistress, but he is a “good friend of the aristocracy” and Mr. Jourdain does not care that he is being played for a “sucker”. To top it all off, Mr. Jourdain says that he will only give his daughter Lucile to an aristocrat as a bride. Lucile’s lover, Cléonte, puts on a big show to deceive Mr. Jourdain with a surprisingly big act. The actors make us laugh, the singers and dancers are excellent, and the stage direction is fast-paced and superb.
At first, Molière and Lully work together as good partners, but as Lully wins the favor of the king, Molière begins to have a hard time with the younger musician’s arrogant ways. In his later years, he left Lully to work with Charpentier. The Iwanami paperbacks reminds me of the movie “Molière” directed by Ariane Mnouchkine, which I saw at “Iwanami Hall” in Jimbocho a long time ago. #baroque #lully #comedy #ballet #片山俊幸