Jean-Baptiste Poquelin, better known as Molière, will be commemorated throughout the year. Even if his precise date of birth is not known (only that of his baptism on January 15, 1622), the 400th birthday of the man of the theater will give rise to a multitude of shows and exhibitions through France. Our selection.
Moliere at Versailles
The royal city wanted to be the first to put Molière in the spotlight. An exhibition entitled “The Factory of National Glory” and organized at the Espace Richaud thus looks back on the life of the actor who performed at the château’s theatre. It is curated by Martial Poirson, professor of cultural history and theater studies (Paris-8). The exhibition looks back on the mysterious life of this artist who traveled across France before triumphing at court through a selection of works, archives (manuscripts, staging notes, preparatory sketches) and objects ( costumes, set models) which evoke the 200 works attributed to the author. François de Mazières, mayor of the city and great theater lover, was keen to put Molière forward for the festival that bears his name and takes place every year in June. “We will start with L’Impromptu de Versailles, a short piece created in 1663 which speaks of Molière’s troupe, details the chosen one. It is a play written in response to the cabal against L’École des femmes. We will have other plays, including a show on Molière created by Jean-Christophe Daguerre, as well as a symposium on Molière’s influence abroad (June 9 and 10), “says the city councilor.
“Molière, the factory of a national glory. », from January 15 to April 17, 2022 at the Espace Richaud in Versailles.
Shows at the castle of the Sun King
At the Palace of Versailles, a cycle of shows, offered from January 4 to June 26 at the Royal Opera, also presents several plays by Molière. After George Dandin or the Confused Husband (from January 4 to 8) with Michel Fau in the title role and in the staging, Le Malade imaginaire will be scheduled from April 13 to 17 with Guillaume Gallienne and the troupe of the Comédie-Française and Le Bourgeois gentilhomme (June 9 to 19) directed by Denis Podalydès.
A maestro named Poquelin
Several concerts, also at Versailles, will highlight an unknown dimension of Molière’s work: his musical ballets. See you on January 13 for Les Plaisirs de Versailles concocted by Sébastien Daucé and his ensemble Correspondances. A fine specialist in 17th century French music, the conductor will offer excerpts from the Forced Marriage and the Sicilian. “When Louis XIV was in his prime and Versailles in its infancy, the royal festivals were the principal ornaments of its gardens, and the brilliant entertainments of the court of France were the admiration of Europe… These prestigious events welcomed a lot of music, and not only that of Lully: the Molière-Charpentier duo was very present in this period. The Imaginary Invalid was thus represented at Versailles in front of the Grotto of Thétys in 1674 during the Royal Festivals for the conquest of Franche-Comté”, recalls the musician. On January 14, Vincent Dumestre and his harmonic poem will offer an exceptional ballet by Jean-Baptiste (Lully and Molière precisely). The opportunity to discover the music of Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme, Monsieur de Pourceaugnac, La Pastorale comique over the tunes which form the “soundtrack” of his shows and which are too rarely played.
A bronze statue of the theater man, created by Xavier Veilhan, will be inaugurated next May in the garden of the future Versailles tourist office. “The sculpture will be dark green like the important figures celebrated in Parisian parks and squares. It will be a little larger than life and seated at audience level without a pedestal, thus losing its presence. Passers-by will be able to sit next to it, touch it and take their picture with it. This dimension of physical appropriation of forms is important to me,” explains the artist.
The Comédie-Française celebrates its “founder”
Historical tours of the theater will allow you to discover the armchair where legend claims that Molière died on February 17, 1673. Piously preserved within the Comédie-Française, it is presented on stage every January 15 as a holy relic! In addition, if the Covid authorizes it, the Richelieu room and that of the Vieux-Colombier will see the author’s greatest pieces played (alternately). The Tartuffe will be given there from January 15 to April 14 in its original text, directed by Ivo van Hove. The creation of this show will be broadcast live in more than 200 cinemas across France. Le Misanthrope will follow (from February 2 to May 22), The Imaginary Invalid (from February 21 to April 3), The Miser (from April 1 to July 24), Les Fourberies de Scapin (from March 22 to July 10), The Ridiculous Precious (from March 25 to May 8) .
Molière dressed for the winter
From May 26 to November 6, 2022, the National Center for Stage Costume in Moulins is presenting an exhibition entitled “Molière in costumes”: 150 pieces and a set of models, photographs and audiovisual recordings which will give an overview of how the great characters of Molière’s work were represented: from Alceste the misanthrope to Tartuffe the false devotee, passing through the indecisive Célimène and the naive Agnès, the vain Monsieur Jourdain and the cunning Sganarelle. Among the treasures unearthed will be the Habit of Dom Juan by Louis Jouvet or the Dandin by Roger Planchon.
Recoveries in shambles
Michel Boujenah will slip into Harpagon’s costume at the Théâtre des Variétés, from January 15, in a staging by Daniel Benoin. Francis Perrin will stage L’École des femmes at the Cap d’Agde convention center on the 16th, as well as tribute evenings at the Pézenas theatre. Macha Makeïeff will take over the Tartuffe at the Criée theater in Marseille. From Amiens to Toulouse, via Blois, Caen or even Saint-Nazaire, dozens of companies will offer, throughout the year, to hear Molière… In May, the Institut de France will show the one of his lesser-known comedies (La Jalousie du barbouillé) in old French and staged at the time, that is to say by candlelight, in the courtyard of the former Collège des Quatre-Nations.