Middle Ages in Parisian salons at the beginning of the 20th century

Time passes and won't pass again…
(Erik Satie)

Dialogos invites you for a walk in the elegant atmosphere of Parisian salons and café-concerts from the beginning of the 20th century, among poets, musicians, storytellers and raconteurs, inspired by the medieval and ancient worlds.

In this elegant and frivolous stroll through Paris of the Belle Epoque, we will meet the fascinating and controversial figure of Yvette Guilbert (1865-1944), singer, storyteller, actress and writer. This exceptional woman developed a rich café-concert repertoire. In collaboration with French musicologist Jean Beck, she played an important role in the revival of medieval troubadour and trouvère song, which she performed with piano accompaniment in Carnegie Hall and on numerous international tours.

Video clip: Radislav Jovanov Gonzo. Production: Hommage production Zagreb 2017.

Our promenade leads us as well to Eric Satie (1866-1925), the eccentric gentleman in grey velvet immersed in his gothic reveries…, or to Claude Debussy (1862-1918) who knew, better than anyone, how to serve delicate impressionist madeleines immersed in elegant neo-medieval melodies. The paths of almost all the main characters of this programme crossed at the Chat Noir, famous Montmartre cabaret where café-concert songs met neo-medievalism, and where the famous storyteller Vincent Hyspa (1865-1938) composed texts for Satie and Debussy.

The main idea of this intimate and ironical musical salon is not to make a historical reconstruction of yet another historical reconstruction. Yes, the artists of the Belle Epoque were inspired by Antiquity and Middle Ages, but they also dared to play with the past in such a delicious and liberating way. Sometimes they performed medieval melodies melted in juicy and decadent piano accompaniments, sometimes they played freely with Gregorian chant modes, sometimes they invented new pieces and presented them as precious objects from the past, enjoying their own discoveries with so much elegance and irony…

Our salon is woven of songs and stories. We could have built into it only music on medieval themes, composed on ancient texts or hidden behind medieval-sounding titles. But, as Yvette Guilbert says: "There is a time for everything: a time when you will be the prisoner of your formula, and a time when you will escape from your formula." We have tried to escape. Thus, along with medieval and neo-medieval songs, we perform pieces whose declamation and allusion to ancient worlds go beyond reviving an ancient repertoire or enjoying pretty vocal arabesques. We wanted to allow these sacred, erotic and funny stories to be alive again, in their world where singing, speaking and acting are the indistinguishable faces of one same human voice.