Le Voyageur… – what’s it all about?

Why do I have an actor in my latest concert series?

Glad you asked! – the piece “Suite for Violin, Clarinet, and Piano” by Darius Milhaud is actually part of the incidental music for the play “Le Voyageur Sans Bagage” by Jean Anouilh. Both written in 1937, the music and play describe the darkly comedic search for identity of an amnesiac French soldier.

It’s always a thrill for me as an artist to cross-collaborate, especially with non-musicians. Upon finding this opportunity to involve my friends from the drama world, I knew we could enhance the music and make it more than just a “recital” to be appreciated formally, from a distance. French-Australian actor Yoann Bretonnet presents Gaston and other characters alongside the charming, sunny music of Milhaud, giving a taste of the original theatrical event and providing more intimate access to the narrative behind the notes.

When Gaston arrives in a town that could well be his home from before the Great War, 18 years ago, any family that lost a son, brother, or husband naturally wants to claim him. What he hoped to an enlightening time turns into a tiresome slog and almost a farce, as he meets with hundreds of grieving people with no remote connection to him.

But suddenly the light of recognition goes on, Gaston meets “The Duchess” and she introduces him to the Reynouds, who seem to have not only the feelings but the evidence that he belongs with them. Initially dubious, he becomes happy and excited. Then these emotions turn full circle to dread as the shameful secrets and truly wicked actions of his supposed past self, “Jacques”, are revealed. So…. should he accept himself, and this shady identity? Or could he take a chance with a blank slate?

Le Voyageur Sans Bagage – Milhaud, Bruch, Schumann, world premieres, and surprise favourites, 18 and 19 April 2015, Sydney.

 

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