Wednesday, December 19, 2012

L'Arlésienne by Georges Bizet

by Georges Bizet, composer of Carmen, consists of twenty-seven numbers as incidental music to the play of the same name by Alphonse Daudet. The play was based on a short story also by Daudet. Premiering in 1872, the play was not a success, but the music has lived on, in the form of two orchestral suites that are often played at Christmas time. The first theme is the March of the Kings (la Marche des rois), borrowed by Bizet from a much older Christmas carol that has been used by various composers through the ages. Those interested can find the English words to this carol here and the French lyrics here. The video above sets beautiful images of the Nativity against the familiar music.

Daudet's play about a girl from Arles also inspired the following video uploaded by someone who obviously appreciates the regional costumes of Provence and the elegant style of another era in the long and fruitful cultural life of France. The clothes are not only beautiful in themselves, but they enhance the woman, rather than degrading her. All the former provinces of France have their regional customs, including dress. What would they think of today's girls dressed in low-slung jeans, navel exposed and stiletto heels, clear signs of decadence, insolence and voluntary bad taste? (But a boon to podiatrists.)

And just a reminder that the same Daudet play/short story also inspired a fine ballet choreographed by the late Roland Petit, who died in July 2011. He remains one of France's great choreographers. Along with his wife, Zizi Jeanmaire, Roland Petit had great success in Hollywood as well as the ballet stages of the world.

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At December 19, 2012 12:16 PM, Blogger dchamil said...

Do you have a comment on the name Zizi Jeanmaire? Google Translate gives "zizi" as a child's name for "penis."

At December 19, 2012 6:24 PM, Blogger tiberge said...

@ dchamil

No, I have no comment. I know the meaning of "zizi", but that is what they nicknamed her. Her real name is Renée. My only thoughts are that the word is not all that bad, and it was meant all in fun, not as a provocation. But I have no specific information on her nickname. I don't know if the French actually thought of her by that name or if they called her Renée. Maybe it was Hollywood that gave her the name???

If I find out anything I'll post a comment here.

At December 20, 2012 5:40 PM, Anonymous dauphin said...

Very evocative music. My great-grandmother was an Arlésienne, a girl at the time of the play, so of course I think of her when I hear this. My mother said that even in her 80s, she could still run up and down flights of stairs! lol

Yes, Roland Petit was one of the greats of all time; his choreography is still as fresh today as 60 years ago.

At December 21, 2012 5:47 AM, Blogger zazie said...

Just beautiful! Thank you, Tiberge, for the music and the paintings! This is really Christmas, until January 6th, since the Three Wise Men are in the pictures and the music as well : "de bon matin, j'ai rencontré le train (pageant!) de trois grands Rois qui partaient en voyage..." ; every French child can sing these words, even when they do not know who Bizet was!
As to Zizi, I can't help you ; I am sure Hollywood discovered her under this nickname.


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