The Impromptu at Versailles: October 21-29 ~PERFORMANCE IS INDOORS~

Theatre, music and painting come together in this special event! 

The Art Theater is proud to present Molière‘s one-act comedy, The Impromptu at Versailles, October 21-29 at the Pence Gallery as part of their Art After Dark series. A special performance on October 29 will include music by the Sacramento Baroque Soloists, including dance music by Lully, the dancer and composer with whom Molière collaborated on court entertainment for Louis XIV.

Buy your tickets in advance here.

Performances will take place in the Main Gallery, where on exhibit will be the annual forgery show by twelve painters from the Mt. Shasta region. Playing with the idea of originality, these artists use their technical prowess to investigate well-known examples of western art history. From revised, updated versions of masterworks, complete with modern apparel or situations, to remarkable facsimiles of originals, the Mt. Shasta painters engage visitors with their “forgeries”.

Written in 1663, The Impromptu at Versailles is a comedy about actors and acting styles for comedy and tragedy, showing us Molière turning a satirical eye on himself and his own troupe of actors in a virtuosic display of meta-theatricality. In this unique adaptation by Timothy Nutter, the Art Theater uses Molière’s play to mimic and satirize itself and the Art Theater’s realistic acting style.

Sacramento Baroque Soloists, formed in 2001, is a professional ensemble dedicated to performing music written between 1600 and 1800. From Uccellini and Gabriella to Lully, from Vivaldi to Biber and Bach, Sacramento Baroque Soloists present historically informed concerts on period-style instruments.

Their program on the 29th will include the following works:

Jean-Baptiste Lully (1632-1687) – Dances from Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme

At the end of the 17th century Italian opera gained popularity throughout Europe.  In France, however, it was received with disfavor, where the spoken drama was highly sophisticated.  The French expected a developed plot and the simplified storylines and elaborated ornamentation of the Italian style seemed unsophisticated and unappealing.  In this climate, Lully, already court composer of Louis IV, expanded on the comédie-ballet with Molière to create Le Bourgeois Gentihomme. He soon was given permission to compose the first French operas, which were a combination of the elaborate dance popular at the time, song, and instrumental ritornellos. During his illustrious career Lully raised the standard of French ensemble playing, developed Le Petit Violons, the smaller ensemble which played at court occasions, and perfected a musical style which would be emulated throughout Europe.  He died of gangrene after striking his foot with the staff he used to keep time.

Marin Marais (1656-1728) – Sonnerie de Saint-Genevieve du Mont

Marais was the central figure in the French school of bass-viol composers and performers that flourished during the late 17th and early 18th centuries. He played in the Opera orchestra in Paris under Lully, where he began composing viol music and operas for the Paris stage. He became conductor of the Opera orchestra in 1706.  As a viol performer Marais was virtuostic and musical, described by his contemporaries as playing “like an angel.”  Marais wrote more than 550 compositions for one, two, or three viols and figured bass in his Pièces de Violes, which stand alone as the largest and most expressive contribution to literature for the bass viol.  The Sonnerie, written for violin, viola da gamba and continuo, is descriptive of the bells of Saint-Genevieve, which can be heard in the continuo throughout.

Francois Couperin (1668-1733) – La Sultane

Although Couperin gained renown primarily as an organist and harpsichordist, he was also a prolific composer of instrumental and vocal music.  He is considered to be the most important musical figure in France between Lully and Rameau.  After his father died, Couperin at age ten inherited the post of organist at St. Gervaise.  He carried out all of the duties of organist by the time he was fourteen and was officially recognized when he turned eighteen.  La Sultane was one of four sonatas written by Couperin after he was charmed by the sonatas of Corelli, around 1693.  It was written for two treble instruments, probably violins, and two gambas with continuo.  The sonata follows the Italian Sonata da chiesa model, slow-fast-slow-fast.  Couperin had a life-long intention of effecting a union between French and Italian music, which he convincingly achieves in La Sultane, retaining the naturalness and simplicity of the French style while making use of Italian forms.  Couperin was organist and harpsichordist to the king during the last 15 years of Louis XIV’s reign.

Georg Muffat (1653-1704) – Les Poetes from Florilegium Secundum

One could say that Muffat was the quintessential “man about town” of Baroque music in the late 17th century.  Born to Scottish emigrants, he lived in Savoy and Alscace in his early years, was educated in Paris under Lully, and held positions in Prague and then Salzburg.  His final position was director of music at the court of Prince-Bishop Philipp von Lamberg in the city of Passau. He is important today for his texts on performance practice found in the preface to his works, Floriligium Primum, Floriligium Secundum, and Auserlesene Instrumentalmusik, which detail French and Italian style, bowing, and ornamentation.  His aim was to educate the German public in how to play French dance music.  His Florilegium are literally “bouquets” of dance pieces similar to the French dances of the time.

Georg Philip Telemann (1681-1767) – Paris Quartet No. 3

The late Baroque musician and author Johann Quantz wrote that the quartet, with three concertato parts and basso continuo, was “the true touchstone of a genuine contrapuntist.”  Quantz and other contemporaries acknowledged that Telemann’s Quartets were the finest in existence.  The six Paris quartets, published and premiered in Paris in 1737, were considered the most advanced of his more than fifty quartets, due to their inventiveness and independence of the concertate parts.  They combine elements of French, Italian, and Polish music in a mixed style that foreshadowed the quartets of the early classical period.  The quartet’s movements are primarily dances along with other stylized pieces such as Overtures, Preludes, and Airs and are grouped as typical French Suites.  They are unusual in that many movements are named with emotionally descriptive terms instead of just the name of the dance.  For example, this program’s Quartet No. 3 contains four dances.  The Légèrement and Gai movements are both bourees, Vie is a gigue, and Modéré is a polonaise.

Please join us for this multidisciplinary, multimedia event at the Pence Gallery!