beyond the moulin rouge: jane avril's vie de boheme

Sunday 14 August 2011

16.00 - 17.00, Foyer

The Courtauld Institute of Art, Somerset House, Strand, London WC2R 0RN

Henri Toulouse-Lautrec, Sketch for a Portrait of a LadyHenri Toulouse-Lautrec, Sketch for a Portrait of a Lady. © The Samuel Courtauld Trust, The Courtauld Gallery, London


Cast: Christopher Jacklin (Marcello); Oliver Johnston (Rodolfo); Katy Crompton (Mimi); Sam Queen (Schaunard); Matthew Buswell (Colline); Alisdair Kitchen (Musical Director/piano); Joseph Timmons (Director)

Speaker: Charlotte de Mille (The Courtauld Institute of Art)

Open to all, free admission but numbers are limited. Advance booking by Thursday 11th August is essential. Please contact:

From the hedonism and haphazard living of fin de siècle Monmartre this event travels to its immediate precursor - the left-bank idealism of Henri Murger’s La Vie de la Bohème, immortalised by Giacomo Puccini’s 1896 opera. Premiered at the Teatro Regio under Arturo Toscanini, the opera reached Paris in June 1898, receiving over one hundred performances at the Opèra-Comique by 1903. La Bohème is the exact contemporary of Toulouse-Lautrec’s evocative series of images of Jane Avril and lithographs of performers and patrons of the cabaret artistique, music-hall and café-concert venues of Monmartre. Popular, idiomatic, and avant-garde mixed freely between venues: a lithograph of singer Yvette Guilbert at the Divan Japonais cabaret includes Avril with Eduard Dujardin, editor of the Revue Wagnérienne. Dujardin’s presence is indicative of the extent to which venues solicited cross-pollination of what might otherwise be regarded contrary genres in this period. This performance of La Bohème is refracted by another specific inter-relation of these worlds combined in the figure of composer Adolphe Gauwin. Research for the Courtauld Gallery’s exhibition Toulouse-Lautrec and Jane Avril: Beyond the Moulin Rouge  unearthed a short waltz dedicated to Avril, but Gauwin is better remembered as an adept arranger of large scores, including a 1903 Bohème. La Bohème was self-consciously modern. Puccini parodied the forms of Italianate opera and exploited the popular romanticism of artistic life. The opera considers the conflict between patronage and creative freedom, and questions the relation of the arts through its protagonists - painter, writer, musician, and philosopher. It is then, a rich complement to Lautrec’s oeuvre.

The event has been made possible by the generous support of the London Centre for Arts and Cultural Exchange.

Organised by Dr Charlotte de Mille (The Courtauld Institute of Art)

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