First performed at the Vienna Opera House, on 21 February 1882, and choreographed by Josef Hassreiter, Le Carillon was composed by Jules Massenet on a libretto by C. de Roddaz and E. Van Dyck.
The action in Le Carillon takes place in Courtrai, Belgium during the 15th century. Karl the clockmaker likes Bertha, the daughter of Rombalt the innkeeper, but she wants to marry Pit the baker, or Jef the chimney sweep. Forced to choose, Bertha mockingly imitates both of them, and then rejects them - her heart belongs to Karl. A herald comes to announce the impending arrival of the Duke of Burgundy, adding that if he is not greeted by the ringing of the new bell at Saint Martin’s Church, the clockmaker will be thrown in jail. Karl is distraught, because his work is far from finished. All alone at night, Karl begs Saint Martin for help. Light fills the church and Karl thinks he sees angels ringing the bell. He runs to tell Bertha about his vision, but their conversation is interrupted by the arrival of Pit and Jef who have come to get revenge. They climb to the top of the belfry to destroy the bell and its mechanism. Morning comes, and just as the Duke arrives, the bell begins to ring. Everyone looks up and sees Pit and Jef, turned into automatons, hitting the bell with their hammers. Bertha and Karl then fall into each other’s arms.
There are works from the past which allow for in-depth editing. As Le Carillon strongly reflects a bygone era, it had to be left as it was and just needed a few nips and tucks done. Atmosphere, Atmosphere - I thought of music kiosks, Sunday matinees at provincial theatres, with the same set design used for several works, at a time when a show simply inspired wonder and guaranteed enjoyment.
Performed on 26 November 1999
at l’Esplanade de Saint-Etienne
Music Jules Massenet
Choreography Thierry Malandain
Set design and costumes Jorge Gallardo
Lighting design Jean-Claude Asquié
Coproduction Festival Massenet, Esplanade de Saint-Etienne, Malandain Ballet Biarritz
Full length of the performance 40 minutes
Ballet for 12 dancers
Dancers Giuseppe Chiavaro, Isaïas Jauregui, Olivier Jedrasiak, Lyane Lamourelle, Cyril Lot, Carole Philipp, Adriana Pous Ojeda, Magali Praud, Christophe Roméro, Thierry Taboni, Brigitte Valverde, Nathalie Verspecht
Video by Georges Flores, April 2000