Toque of the Town

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Date/Time
Saturday, November 26, 2016
8:00 pm

Location
Alix Goolden Hall, Victoria Conservatory of Music

Category(ies)

Doors open at 6:45 pm. Pre-concert talk at 7:10 pm.

Fuoco E Cenere FRANCE

A unique staged performance combines music of the French Baroque by Charpentier, Rameau, Marais, and Lully with acting and French cuisine. At the conclusion of the performance, the artists serve canapés prepared exclusively for the audience.

Dishing up platters of well simmered Baroque music—artfully slicing the ingredients into thin strips of staccato—and the whole served all with talent, humour and joie de vivre. What a marvelous idea… APPOGGIATURE

Visit the website of Fuoco E Cenere


 
 
PROGRAMME

Take one Party Prince and one golden fingered Chef.

Shake them up with the delightful Margoton, fresh off the farm.

Sprinkle them all with the sweet sounds of recorder, viol and theorbo,

And a smattering of breathtaking baroque music from France….

Voilà, the delicious recipe for Complètement Toqué!

Recently ranked as a world intangible heritage by UNESCO, France’s legendary gastronomic savoir-faire was in large part dreamed up by the culinary wizards who worked their magic at the court of Louis XIV. Remembered for the sauces which have inspired today’s Haute Cuisine, their reputations were built on richly appointed tables, as well as dazzling musical and theatrical entertainments that spiced up their memorable festive meals.

Fuoco E Cenere has concocted a highly original musical entertainment honouring these purveyors of “taste”and shares the stage with Chef Denis Leroy.

Gastronomic preparations . . .

Carrot cream with coconut milk

Chicken liver mousse with Port-soaked raisins

Apple chutney

Accompanied by choice musical morsels . . .

Marc-Antoine Charpentier

Marin Marais

Michel de La Barre

Jean-Philippe Rameau

Jean-Baptiste Lully

Louis Nicolas Clérambault…

Tasting . . .

 ___

Cast 

Margoton, Julie Fioretti (soprano)

Maître d’Hôtel, Philippe Cantor (baritone)

Chef Cuisinier, Denis Leroy

Patricia Lavail, recorder

Mike Fentross, theorbo

Jay Bernfeld, viola de gamba & direction

Agnès Marin, scenography

Aurélie Chamouard, costume design

Olivier Oudiou, lighting

Jennifer Montesantos and François Luberne, stage managers

Synopsis

The Maître d’Hôtel and Chef are under great pressure to pull off another of their celebrated feasts. The farm girl, Margoton, symbol of France’s great natural bounty, is nowhere to be seen. With her are the products which will be so artfully employed by the Chef under the watchful gaze of the Maître d’Hôtel. Once found, the tardy Margoton is forced to stay and lend a hand. Amidst all these splendid recipes the lovelorn Margoton has lost her appetite but is quickly enticed by a Chocolate Cream recipe whipped up by our two culinary magicians. Inspired by her imaginative friends and their heady creations, Margoton is herself transformed: a baroque My Fair Lady!

To recreate the excitement of preparing one of these special events where music, dance, theatre, and fabulously creative food left lasting impressions on the lucky
visitors, we have chosen from the many volumes of collected songs published by the Ballard family,
instrumental works, airs and ritornellos by Lully, Charpentier and the less well known Pascal Colasse as well as the stunning cantata Zéphire et Flore by Louis Nicolas Clérambault. Descriptions of the banquets come from several of the cookbooks mentioned, and the dance sequence is adapted from the Bourgeois Gentilhomme by the great Molière.

PROGRAMME NOTES

Toque of the Town tips it hat to French Cuisine, recently declared by UNESCO as a ‘world intangible heritage’. This honour piqued our interest in the origins of modern French cooking and its special relation to the other arts situated at the very outset of the Baroque era, specifically to the world of music.

Ironically, it was the marriage of that cultivated Florentine Marie de Medicis with Henri II that inspired a new interest in the culinary arts in France. The new queen brought with her Italian musicians, actors, and above all, talented chefs who introduced new techniques and products, not the least of which was the divine truffle! She also introduced the idea of sumptuous banquets, and the novel idea of food as theatre, which sparked a gastronomic revolution.

This explosion in interest produced a series of first cookbooks starting with “La Cuisine Françoise” by Pierre François de la Varenne. Many of the sauces and techniques which are still a part of modern French cooking appear in print for the first time. Included in these pages is the first Napoleon recipe. La Varenne calls his creation a Millefeuille, ‘thousand leaves’. Napoléon himself is not born for another century. Other important cookbooks, aimed not just at royalty but at a growing middle class, rapidly followed. One such volume, which inspired this evening’s entertainment is “The Festin Joyeux” (The Happy Banquet) by J. Lebas in 1738, where all the recipes are very remarkably sung to the tunes of the greatest hits of the day. In tonight’s presentation, you hear a recipe for a chocolate cream sung to the tune of an aria from Lully’s Atys.

When the young Louis XIV ascends to the throne, France enters a golden age of cuisine. Louis quickly becomes known for the splendid lengthy celebrations where all the arts conspire to produce divertissements of remarkable sophistication. During the very first of the Fêtes at Versailles, Molière collaborates with Lully for the first time. Louis was a force of nature, and justly celebrated for his immense appetite. Descriptions of banquet menus of the time inspire awe, with upwards of forty dishes placed before the guests. In a new innovation, instead of all being served at once, certain dishes are allied and served in a first, then replaced by a second service. A dozen dishes in each service and five such services were not uncommon. And the fork makes its first appearance during Louis’s reign!

To give an idea of the theatrical approach to the art of presentation, here is one of the stranger recipes of the era:

How to make moo, as if alive, a calf’s head cooked and served at table

You will produce a great effect with the following simple and innocent stratagem.

Take a live frog and place it inside the head, under the calf’s tongue, which you will then let cover it, taking special care to place the frog in place just prior to serving the dish! The heat of the tongue never fails to make the frog croak, and coming from inside and therefore slightly muted perfectly imitates the moo of the cow!

P.S. Don’t try this at home!

THE ARTISTS

“Now in its fifteenth year, Fuoco E Cenere has established itself as an arena for sensational musical adventures. The ensemble since then retained an often remarked daring in its choice of repertoire. Eager to preserve the unique freshness of the concert-going experience, Fuoco E Cenere has devised a number of original entertainments including recent intriguing mixes of music with puppetry, and music with haute cuisine.

Story telling through song and translating emotions and dreams into music are the missions we have readily accepted. In our musical laboratory we eagerly juxtapose and metamorphose outstanding works, permitting the listener to view these gems of a bygone era in a new light, frequently imagining entertainments that delight both young and old, the novice and the connoisseur.

Spurred on by director Jay Bernfeld’s love of song, Fuoco E Cenere has been pleased to collaborate with many of today’s finest voices as well as the stars of tomorrow. The ensemble is proud to have presented several forgotten masterpieces to an appreciative public. Fuoco E Cenere has produced ten recordings covering one thousand years of music.

Its first, Fantasy in Blue – Purcell meets Gershwin, was hailed by Le Monde as a  “veritable knock-out”. The ensemble’s recording of Marco da Gagliano’s little known masterpiece, La Dafne, was awarded the prestigious Orphée d’Or by the Académie du Disque Lyrique and unanimously lauded by international critics. Our most recent recording, Judith & Esther, divine destinies, recounts the universal stories of two biblical super-women, who with force and tenderness, vanquish oppression
and injustice.”


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