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  • on 26 November 1999 at l’Esplanade de Saint-Etienne


  • Jules Massenet


  • Thierry Malandain

Décor et costumes

  • Jorge Gallardo

Conception lumières

  • Jean-Claude Asquié


  • Festival Massenet, Esplanade de Saint-Etienne, Malandain Ballet Biarritz


  • for 12 dancers


  • 40 minutes

note of intent

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.
Thierry Malandain


The young choreographer has tackled the impossible challenge of keeping Le Carillon’s original story line, popular and miraculous, which takes place in medieval Belgium. With set designer Jorge Gallardo, he avoided the kitschiest pitfalls producing a lighthearted, charming and funny performance. Inspired by winter scenes by Bruegel, the Chilean designer imagined little Flemish houses on wheels with transparent fabric, painted in tiny dots, black and white like stylized costumes; absolutely brilliant. Thierry Malandain designed this forty-five minute ballet like a comic strip, with funny and clever poses and movements, drawing very simple characters quite well […]. Although it’s not one of Massenet’s masterpieces, Le Carillon has some very lovely musical passages, directed with all the desired lyricism by Giuseppe Grazioli at the head of the excellent Nouvel Orchestre de Saint-Etienne.
Le Figaro, René Sirvin • 30 November 1999
Thierry Malandain who is never at a loss for ideas has chosen to go all out with off-beat humour. You have the impression you’re watching a puppet show, and the dance company succeeds brilliantly in doing a difficult pantomime, done with hasty movements, while the costumes (a bit too identical) remind us of peasants' breeches painted by Bruegel. It must be quite difficult for the fourteen dancers to keep pace. They manage to do so with panache.
Danse conservatoire, Michel Odin • December 1999

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