Program Notes

This suite is an homage to the carefree spirit of the Folies Bergère in early 20th century Paris. The premise of this song cycle is that ghosts of the great performers of the Folies Bergère – Josephine Baker, Jacques Brel, Édith Piaf and Félix Mayol - come back for one night to put on a revue. These spirits tell the story of the rise and fall of the love affair between Mistinguett and Chevalier, two of the Folies Bergère’s biggest stars.  Mistinguett and Chevalier met, literally, on stage and shared their first kiss while rolled up in a carpet. Chez Moi I is a take on what their scene might have been, slapstick and all.  Chevalier was soon drafted and sent to war and for roughly one year, he was thought to be dead (A Bientôt). He was actually found alive in a German prison camp and Mistinguett used her celebrity to put pressure on the Kaiser to free him.  When he returned to Paris other people crept into the relationship (Zoo D’Amour), and public fights became the norm (Chez Moi II), everyone could see that the end was near (Conga Dies Irae) and eventually, their flame burned out (Folies Bergère).  Purists might notice that the French lyrics are not always accurate.  At times they’re completely made up to sound French, and be a convincing counterpart to the “translation.” This is essentially because I didn’t, and still don’t, know any French lyricists, but feel strongly that French music sounds best sung with French, or at least Frenchish, lyrics.  Although it wasn’t meant to be staged, the piece was written with playons and playouts so it would feel like an actual Folies Bergère revue.