The Costuming of Power, Opera and Cinema

From January 26 to May 20, 2013

From the Olympian gods to sovereigns anointed by God, from saber to aspergillum, from the Republic to dictatorships…the new exhibition presented by the CNCS shows how stage and cinema treat the representation of power, from simple evocation to faithful reconstructions of famous portraits of sovereigns.

From barbarian antiquity to contemporary off-the-wall baroque

The exhibition presents the visitor with representations of power, from the most realistic to the most phantasmagorical, notably with characters and eras which have marked History. Thus transported from barbarian Antiquity to the current era, passing through the great historical periods, the visitor will travel through time and genre, discovering stagings of Jeanne d’Arc, Boris Godunov and Don Carlos; meeting Vladimir Putin, Louis XIV and many others. Approximately 130 costumes from cinema and opera will be presented, from the collections of the CNCS, the Bibliothèque nationale de France, the Cinémathèque Française, the Centre des monuments nationaux, the Comédie-Française, the Musée Gaumont, the Opéra national de Bordeaux, the Opéra de Lyon, the Opéra national de Paris, the Théâtre du Capitole in Toulouse and others.

Cinema costumes, a first for the CNCS

Influenced by historical theater, the cinema abused without moderation crowns and scepters, powdered wigs and hooped dresses. Historical films were greatly appreciated by the public and were generally successes, but the style evolved during the 1960s with Roberto Rossellini’s television film The Rise of Louis XIV. The cloak and dagger genre did not disappear from the screen, nor did the mythic figures of Joan of Arc, Louis XIV, Marie-Antoinette and Napoleon, but movie directors began to take a deeper look at the arcana of power and its representation. This exhibition invites us to revisit the great richness of historical film from The Assassination of the Duke of Guise, 1908, to Jeanne d’Arc by Luc Besson and Vatel by Roland Joffé; from Marie Walewska (Conquest), revisited by Greta Garbo and Hollywood, to La Reine Margot by Patrice Chéreau and Farewell, My Queen by Benoît Jacquot. And we must not forget our Gallic ancestors Astérix et Obélix ! The costumes for these contemporary films were designed by Moidele Bickel, Jean Paul Gaultier, Aline Bonetto, Christian Gasc, Madeline Lemaire, Catherine Leterrier, Carine Sarfati and Yvonne Sassinot de Nesle.

Representations of power at the opera

Opera, high place of power and authority, will be shown to advantage with comparisons of several productions of symbolic works such as L’incoronatione di Poppea by Monteverdi, Don Carlos by Verdi and Boris Gudonov by Moussorgski. Certain productions will be presented as mirrors of cinematic works. The court dressed in the black of the absolute monarch in Atys is contrasted with that of the young Louis XIV and his colorful followers in Vatel. Others will complete a picture of the parodies of power, mixing genres, with costumes from Le Balcon by Jean Genet for the theater, Salomé by Richard Strauss for opera and The Fifth Element for the cinema. History and fantasy come together, as in comic books, so that the opera costumes for Le Roi d’Ys and Robert le Diable reflect those of the legendary film Atlantis. But symbols will open this glimpse into the scenes of power, sex and blood, with Gold (The Golden Fleece of Medea) and Evil (the black angels in Simon Boccanegra). These costumes, designed by Gérard Audier, Patrice Cauchetier, Bernard Daydé, Jacques Dupont, Pet Halmen, Anna Maria Heinreich, Iannis Kokkos, Florica Malureanu, Tomio Mohri, Daniel Ogier, Franca Squarciapino, Carlo Tommasi, José Varona, Jean-Pierre Vergier, Francesco Zito… come for the most part from

Commissariat de l’exposition et direction artistique

Noëlle Giret

General Curator of libraries

From 1970 to 2009, Noëlle Giret managed the Theatrical and Cinematic Documentation Centre at the University of Lyon II, the Library-Museum of the French Film Library and joined the performing arts department of the National Library of...

General Curator of libraries

From 1970 to 2009, Noëlle Giret managed the Theatrical and Cinematic Documentation Centre at the University of Lyon II, the Library-Museum of the French Film Library and joined the performing arts department of the National Library of France. She has been responsible for numerous exhibitions dedicated to the cinema and performing arts including: Yvette Guilbert. Storyteller at the end of the century National Library of France / Musées d’Aix-en-Provence / Musée Toulouse-Lautrec, Albi, 1994, Les Pitoëff. Destines of the Theatre. NLF, 1996 and publication by Georges Pitoëff. The Ideal Stage Manager, Actes Sud, 2001, Renaud-Barrault, NLF, 1999, The clowns, NLF, 2001, The Circus in the 19th century, Mairie du VIe arr., 2001, Gérard Philipe. An actor of his time, Paris / Cannes, 2003, Sacha Guitry. The Life of an Artist, co-production French Film Library / NLF, 2007, Ionesco, NLF, 2009 and Unusual Forms and materials of stage costumes, CNCS, 2011.

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Martine Kahane

General Libraries Curator

Martine Kahane was director of The National Center for Stage Costumes from 2006 to 2011. General libraries curator, Martine Kahane has endeavored for thirty-five years to help create the memoirs of the National Opera of Paris. First she...

General Libraries Curator

Martine Kahane was director of The National Center for Stage Costumes from 2006 to 2011. General libraries curator, Martine Kahane has endeavored for thirty-five years to help create the memoirs of the National Opera of Paris. First she managed the Library-Museum of the Opera (attached to the National Library of France), before creating and managing the Cultural department at the request of Hugues Gall, then director of the National Opera of Paris. The Palais Garnier is her preferred choice, the 19th century her favorite period, The little fourteen-year-old dancer by Degas her favorite work of art, resulting in twenty exhibitions and just as many publications on the architecture of Charles Garnier, the costume workshops and ballet company of the Opera, the Russian Ballets by Diaghilev…

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Simon de Tovar

Scenographer and graphic designer

Graduated from the ATEP (school of 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...

Scenographer and graphic designer

Graduated from the ATEP (school of 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 a sceneographer 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 Judaism, the Galliera Museum, the House of Victor Hugo, the CNCS, as well as the Louis Vuitton Cultural Area in Paris.

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Alain Batifoulier

Scenographer, costume designer and exhibition museographer

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

Scenographer, costume designer and exhibition museographer

After studying at the School of Fine Arts in Lyon, he devoted himself to scenography, the creation of stage costumes, design and graphics for exhibitions. He has worked in theatre 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 works in the creation of contemporary musical works: Marius Constant, Luciano Berio, for the lyric at the Opera of Paris with Carmen, at the Théâtre de la Monnaie in Brussels for the 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 at the National Library of France for more than eleven projects including Ionesco (2009), the Museum of the Art and History of Judaism with The Splendor of Camondo (2009), the Galliera Museum Under the Empire of the Crinolines (2008), the Carnavalet Museum with among others Paris of les Misérables (2008), the CNCS for The Unusual (2011) and Behind the scenes (2012). In the domain of contemporary art, a long collaboration with the Passage de Retz, and a renewed presence at the Louis Vuitton cultural area in Paris.

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