En 2022, Sorbonne Université célèbre Molière
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In 2022, Sorbonne University Celebrates Molière

To celebrate the 400th anniversary of Molière, the Théâtre Molière Sorbonne produced Le Malade imaginaire as Molière had conceived it in 1673.

The Sorbonne University workshop-school has worked for more than three years to recreate the original theatre production of Le Malade imaginaire as closely as possible. In 2022, exceptional performances of this emblematic work will be given by the troupe at several venues in France, including the Royal Opera of Versailles.

Next year marks the 400th anniversary of Molière's birth and in 2023, the 350th anniversary of his last masterpiece, Le Malade imaginaire. These dates were an obvious choice for the production of a unique show by the Sorbonne Molière Theatre School, as its director and professor emeritus at the Faculty of Arts and Humanities, Georges Forestier, tells us: "Very quickly, we wanted to create a great show in connection with the anniversary of Molière's birth and the creation of the play."

Declamation, acting, music, singing, dance, costumes and sets have all come into play. Since 2019, a great deal of research has been conducted under the aegis of Georges Forestier and Mickaël Bouffard, co-director artistic and scientific, with the support of Yann Migoubert, director of cultural affairs of Sorbonne University. Everything has been rethought to stick as closely as possible to the original performances of Le Malade imaginaire in 1673 and 1674.

The play will be interpreted, danced and sung by the Molière Sorbonne Theatre Company and students from partner training institutes. Performances are planned in several cities in France in 2022, beginning with the Royal Opera House in Versailles. The return to its roots will give the public a new experience, a type of play that has disappeared and will offer a production that is as lively and meaningful as when it was created. It is also hoped that it will encourage emulation in the world of theatre production, by demonstrating that historically informed practices, based on research, can constitute a legitimate staging option among all those proposed by the current theatrical offer.

A large-scale interdisciplinary project

This unprecedented research project has mobilized the various disciplines that make up the reputation and expertise of Sorbonne University: literature, art history, dance and performance, history of medicine and science, musicology, organology, and experimental archaeology.

This interdisciplinary program of applied research has resulted in the most historically informed staging to date in terms of history, literature and technique, and represents the most advanced state of knowledge of the performing arts in the classical age (late 16th to early 18th century).

With this unique creation, the Théâtre Molière Sorbonne seeks to combine an unprecedented level of scientific, artistic and pedagogical excellence, allowing the time and means for the application and internalization of research rarely available to the entertainment industry. Moreover, these performances hope to show the necessity to establish and finance a more ambitious school, with a diploma from Sorbonne University to prepare future professionals for this type of performance.

An historically informed performance

A musical movement that emerged in the 20th century, historically informed performance is a term used to characterize the rediscovery and authentic performance of early music. "Towards the middle of the 20th century, we rediscovered a repertoire of early music, period instruments, and a different way of playing. It was at this point that the notion of history and therefore that of historically informed interpretation appeared," explains Georges Forestier.

With the goal of getting closer to the music of the time and the original intentions of the composers, the interpreter plays with period instruments or faithful copies and carries out considerable work on the ornamentation, the tuning forks, the tempi and the temperaments used.

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