Behind the Scenes

Du 28 Janvier au 20 Mai 2012

First exhibition at the Centre national du costume de scène et de la scénographie devoted to theatre stagings, sets and special effects, "Behind the Scenes" is a historical voyage, both playful and interactive, behind the scenes of two 19th century theatres.

When the visitors open the stage curtain, they will discover a backstage world which is usually hidden from them. Stage machinery, special effects and movement of sets will be "dissected" through a series of animated displays. The voyage will end behind the scenes with a dive into the realm under the stage, where the visitors rise onto the stage or disappear…like the phantom of the Opera.

An exceptional guide

Catherine Join-Diéterle is a past master in all concerning the rich and passionate theatrical history of the 19th century both through family tradition and through her love of research, which led to her thesis on the magicians of illusion Cicéri, Séchan, Chaperon and Diéterle. She has united major works for this exhibition and has organized them carefully to lead the visitor through the enchanted world of the stage and what lies behind the scenes.

The animated displays

Alain Batifoulier and Simon de Tovar, the scenographers of this exhibition have created eight mechanized displays, each containing a reproduction of a famous stage set:

  • the square in Alexandria in Les Amours d'Antoine et de Cléopâtre, ballet by Pierre Aumer
  • the cloister in Robert le Diable, opera by Giacomo Meyerbeer
  • the famous staircase from the set of the last act of Chatterton, play by Alfred de Vigny
  • the enchanted forest in La Sylphide, ballet by Filippo Taglioni
  • Vulcan's temple in Aïda, opera by Guiseppe Verdi
  • the collapse of the temple in Samson et Dalila, opera by Camille Saint-Saëns
  • the square in Constance in La Juive, opera by Jacques Fromental Halévy
  • Charlemagne's tomb in Hernani, play by Victor Hugo

Elements of stage machinery

Elements of stage machinery, both moveable and projected will be found around the display windows, explaining, better than any words, how the theatre functions. The visitor will discover English trap doors, capstans, set changes in plain view and lighting effects.
Boxes constructed by the technical departments of the Comédie-Française and the Opéra national de Bordeaux will permit the visitors to manipulate the theatre machinery by themselves.

Original 19th century set maquettes

Magnificent drawings, sketches, watercolours and oil paintings of sets dating from the 19th century as well as miniature theatres and some three-dimensional models will be on display in addition to the reconstructions. The visitors will be able to admire the model of "Vieux Paris", Act V, scene II, of Les Huguenots, opera by Meyerbeer, one of the symbolic works of the "grand" or historical operas of the 19th century and which triumphed throughout Europe.

The importance of stage sets in the 19th century

The gathering of these diverse elements illustrates the importance of scenography during the 19th century at the Comédie-Française and the Opéra de Paris. These great institutional theatres did not hesitate to adopt stage effects, often conceived for extravagant productions performed in what were qualified as secondary theatres; inventions which, at the beginning of the century, were judged unworthy of the prestigious theatres.
These new stagings were at the service of a revolution, that of new genres such as drama, historical opera and Romantic ballet, all of which were putting spoken and sung tragedies out of fashion.

Commissariat de l’exposition et direction artistique

Catherine Join-Diéterle

Honorary General Curator of the museums of the city of Paris

A PhD thesis on theatrical decoration at the opera of Paris during the first half of the 19th century and a book on the same subject lead the CNCS to entrust her with the exhibition
« Behind the scenes». She has...

Honorary General Curator of the museums of the city of Paris

A PhD thesis on theatrical decoration at the opera of Paris during the first half of the 19th century and a book on the same subject lead the CNCS to entrust her with the exhibition
« Behind the scenes». She has spent all her career working for the city of Paris, at the Petit Palais then the Galliera museum, the Fashion Museum where she was general curator. She has been exhibition curator for « Evening dresses », « Givenchy », « Under the Empire of the Crinolines ». She teaches at the Louvre School where created the chair of Fashion and Costume.

 

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Alain Batifoulier

Scenographer, costume designer, exhibition museography

After studying at the School of Fine Arts in Lyon, he devoted himself to scenography, the creation of stage costumes, design and graphics.
In the theatre he has worked with directors like Daniel Mesguich, Marcel Maréchal,...

Scenographer, costume designer, exhibition museography

After studying at the School of Fine Arts in Lyon, he devoted himself to scenography, the creation of stage costumes, design and graphics.
In the theatre he has worked with directors like Daniel Mesguich, Marcel Maréchal, Pierre Debauche, Jean-Louis Martin-Barbaz, Pierre Pradinas, Philippe Faure on more than one hundred and fifty productions illustrating the greatest classics: Euripide, Shakespeare, Molière, Racine… and contemporary works: Valère Novarina, Charles Juliet, Jacques Audiberti…
He has worked for the creation of contemporary musical works: Marius Constant, Luciano Berio, Bruno Maderna, for the lyric at the Opera of Paris with Carmen, at the Théâtre de la Monnaie in Brussels for La Passion de Gilles de Rais  by Philippe Boesmans (creation) and la Scala in Milan for Il Giardino Religioso by Bruno Maderna.
He has also organized exhibition areas in the National Library of France for more than eleven projects including the latest « Ionesco » in 2009, the Museum of the Art and History of Judaism with « The Splendor of Camondo » in 2009, the Galliera Museum « Under the Empire of the  Crinolines » in 2008, Carnavalet Museum with among others « Paris of Les Misérables » in 2008 and in the domain of contemporary art, a long collaboration with the Passage de Retz, a renewed presence at the Espace Louis Vuitton.

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Simon de Tovar

Scenographer graphic designer

Graduate from the ATEP (school for visual communication and graphic design), he opened a set workshop in Paris and divides his time between the design of furniture and lighting, event scenography and has been associated with Alain Batifoulier as...

Scenographer graphic designer

Graduate from the ATEP (school for visual communication and graphic design), he opened a set workshop in Paris and divides his time between the design of furniture and lighting, event scenography and has been associated with Alain Batifoulier as scenographer and graphic designer for more than 10 years for exhibitions at the National Library of France, the Carnavalet Museum, the Museum of the Art and History of Juadaism, the Galliera Museum, the House of Victor Hugo as well as the Car Museum in Mulhouse.

 

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