Lully / Molière : Monsieur de Pourceaugnac
On the occasion of the tercentenary of Louis XIV’s death, William Christie and Clément Hervieu Léger created a striking and farcical ballet-comedy: Monsieur de Pourceaugnac.
Created by Molière’s company “for the King’s entertainment” on 6th October 1669 in Chambord, this play in three acts revisits some of Molière’s classical themes: marriage, money, illness.
Arrived from Limoges to marry young Julie, Pourceaugnac immediately becomes the victim of Sbrigani and Nérine, two schemers paid by the belle’s lover to prevent this pre-arranged marriage from taking place. Falling in turns prey to doctors, an apothecary, a woman from Picardie and another from Languedoc, Swiss guards, lawyers, an exempt, two archers, the unfortunate Pourceaugnac, as confused by the streets of Paris as by the state of his mind, finally has to flee the city disguised as a woman.
Modeled as a simple comedy designed along Italian lines (Policinella pazzo per forza and Pulcinello burlato) with music and dance added, Monsieur de Pourceaugnac is undoubtedly one of Molière’s darkest and most cruel plays: an implacable descent into hell in three acts, leading Pourceaugnac to lose all notion of who he is. The feeling of inescapability of Pourceaugnac’s both tragic and grotesque end, contrasting with Eraste’s and Julie’s felicitous wedding, is considerably reinforced by the place Molière and Lully give to music.
Unlike in other comedy-ballets, music in Monsieur de Pourceaugnac is not just an ornament; it is fully integrated into the play’s dramaturgy. The sung parts must be considered as scenes in themselves and not as mere “interludes” that could be omitted. Masked dancers whirl in carnival-like sarabandes until they lose their mind. For William Christie and Clément Hervieu-Léger, it is the interweaving of music and theatre that makes this work exceptionally interesting. Opera, then in its first days, would little by little place music before theatre, but here, Molière and Lully succeed in creating music from theatre.
Jean-Baptiste Lully (1632-1687)
Monsieur de Pourceaugnac
Comedy-Ballet in 3 acts by Molière. Music by Jean-Baptiste Lully
First performed at Château de Chambord on 6th October 1669
Production C.I.C.T. - Théâtre des Bouffes du Nord
Coproduction Les Théâtres de la Ville de Luxembourg ; Les Arts Florissants ; Théâtre de Caen ; Opéra Royal/Château de Versailles Spectacles ; CNCDC Châteauvallon ; Théâtre Impérial de Compiègne ; Compagnie des Petits Champs ; Cercle des Partenaires des Bouffes du Nord
Set construction: Les Ateliers des Théâtres de la Ville de Luxembourg
With the financial support of the Région Île-de-France
Supported by SPEDIDAM and with broadcasting support of Arcadi Île-de-France