Your musical invitation to travel in France

 

Please listen to my Masters Recital performance of “L’invitation au voyage” (2013) with Lucy Arner at the piano. 

Lydia Dahling, Guest Contributor

Guest Contributor Lydia Dahling, soprano

Là, tout n’est qu’ordre et beauté, /Luxe, calme et volupté. There all is order and beauty,/ Luxury, peace, and pleasure. These words are a recurring theme in Charles Baudelaire’s “L’invitation au voyage,” set to music by Henri Duparc.  In the poem, Baudelaire describes  Amsterdam, but his description could apply to any place the reader wishes.

I was born a francophile, the kid who read an adaptation of Les Misérables at the age of seven (granted, this version omitted topics such as prostitution, political unrest, disease, extreme poverty, suicide, and child abuse), who’s always loved cheese and good bread, always has had a voracious appetite for French art and history, and maybe still wants to just pack it up, move to France and buy a lavender farm. I could make soaps and teach music.

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Our own corner of the Périgord region

I studied Duparc’s  “L’invitation au voyage” during my participation in “L’art du chant Français — a music and language program situated in the Périgord (aka truffles) region of France. Glenn Morton, one of my vocal coaches at Mannes College,  runs the three-week programHoused in a Périgord gite, eight of us singers studied French musical style and poetry with tenor Michel Sénéchal, a friend and colleague of musicians such as Francis Poulenc Régine CrespinNadia Boulanger. During his more than 60 years’ singing and teaching career, Michel also has directed the young artist studio of the Paris National Opera.

Le Château de Lanquais, where we performed our final concert, and I sang "L'invitation au voyage"

Le Château de Lanquais, where we performed our final concert, and I sang “L’invitation au voyage”

Professional accomplishments aside,  Michel Sénéchal is one of the kindest, most generous and funniest people I’ve ever met. One evening at dinner, as I got up to get a piece of cake, (we always enjoyed dessert), Michel, also visiting the dessert table, pointed to one of the cakes, and whispered a tip, “C’est le meilleur.Continue reading

Soirée art-and-commerce — Vincent Darré / Poltrona Frau / Le Bon Marché

Was Lascaux actually an art gallery where a prehistoric wealthy collector could, let’s say, order an original print of a cave painting to grace the wall of her own condo cavern? No? Well, that was definitely the last time we know of when art and commerce had no interest in common.

So, Art(s) and Commerce cohabit comfortably on GallicFever, and, in this case the collaboration between prolific French artist Vincent Darré, and the venerable (founded 1912) Italian furniture maker, Poltrona Frau, that now has in their sensuous and luxe materials, Darré’s sometimes mordant, invariably witty designs. 

Paris creatives celebrate with (far left) Vincent Darré. Arielle Dombasle, Francis D'Orleans, Marie Beltrami, Catherine Baba, Elie Top

Designer Vincent Darré (far left) celebrates with fellow Paris creatives Arielle Dombasle, Francis D’Orleans, Marie Beltrami, Catherine Baba, Elie Top

Poltrona is far from the first heavyweight firm to hook up to Darré’s talent in the interests of prestige and profit for both, and naturally there’s a luxury retail lynchpin, too — the Left Bank capital of chic, Le Bon Marché. (Five years after the store became part of the LVMH brand, in 1989, Au Bon Marché was rechristened Le Bon Marché and any relation whatsoever to the dictionary meaning of bon marché [er, cheap] ceased to apply.) The LBM windows on rue de Sèvres and much of the 2e étage, the Interiors floor, were devoted at this writing to displays of Darré furniture design and décor inspiration. Unapologetically priced in the thousands of euros per item.

Vincent Darré, educated in an Influential Paris fashion school, as well as in the eighties trend crucible that was the famed disco, Le Palace (think Studio 54 in New York), made the most not only of his considerable design ability but also of a talent for timing. His bio illustrates how he always could be found at the fashion focal point, at the peak fashionable moment, even when that meant being in several places at once.” Continue reading

Photographer’s accomplice: Robert Delpire

Great photographers bring us good news and bad news. They’ve captured that decisive moment – and it is beautiful or trenchant, often both. Well, yes, but the young girl* caught by Henri Cartier-Bresson’s lens has since run right out of the frame, never to return. The moment in reality is gone; what we’re left with is the artist’s vision.

Nice consolation prize after all; one for which we’re indebted to an eclectic French publisher – really an impresario of the image: Robert Delpire. If New Yorkers hadn’t known Delpire’s name, or been aware of his contribution –  “Delpire & Co.,” a four-venue show, made a point in Spring 2012 of Delpire’s influence. In fact, as this exhibition coordinated by the Aperture Foundation made clear, Delpire has called the world’s attention over the past six decades not only to genius in photography but also in illustration, graphics and children’s stories.

Delpire’s Illustrateur series hung at the NYU Maison Française (off UniversityPlace in the Washington Mews,  Greenwich Village), and examples of the photographers’ work Continue reading