The last scene of the play: Argan is welcomed by surgeons and apothecaries who appoint him doctor.

In Pictures: “The Imaginary Invalid” in Versailles

On March 29th and 30th, 2022, the Théâtre Molière Sorbonne theater troupe took to the stage of the Royal Opera of Versailles for unique performances of Molière's "The Imaginary Invalid."

From the actors' performances to the 17th century French details, trompe-l'oeil sets, the orchestra, dances and costumes, each audience member was transported by a magical experience from another time. Let’s take a look back at these performances of Molière's last work.

On March 29th and 30th, the Royal Opera of Versailles staged the first performance of The Imaginary Invalid as it was intended by Molière 350 years ago. The play, performed by the Théâtre Molière Sorbonne theater company and students from Sorbonne University's partner institutes and alliance members, such as the Pôle Supérieur Paris Boulogne-Billancourt, achieved a success that equaled their ambition for the project. 

For three years, considerable research work was carried out by Georges Forestier, a specialist of Molière, and Mickaël Bouffard, an art historian of the 16th and 18th centuries, specializing in the iconography of gestures, costumes and performances, to reconstruct the play in the way Molière conceived, staged and performed The Imaginary Invalid in 1673 and 1674.

This unprecedented program of applied research brought together various disciplines for which Sorbonne University is renowned, stemming from the scientific expertise of the Faculty of Arts and Humanities: literature, history of art, dance and performance, history of medicine and science, musicology, organology, experimental archaeology, among others. 

Thanks to this interdisciplinary approach and the progress made in knowledge of the performing arts in the Classical Age, it has been possible to offer the most historically, literarily and technically documented staging to date.

Photographs by Hubert Caldaguès and François Le Guen. All rights reserved.
 

The singing shepherd, Ana Escudero, during the prologue. 

Ana Escudero

Some of the dancers from the Théâtre Molière Sorbonne during the prologue.

Masked dancers

The orchestra and its bands of violins, led by Hélène Houzel, animate the first interlude by Polichinelle.

Orchestra and dancers

Polichinelle (Matthieu Franchin) puts on a show in the first interlude.

Polichinelle (Matthieu Franchin)

The talented Antoine Gheerbrant, playing the famous hypochondriac.

The talented Antoine Gheerbrant, playing the famous hypochondriac

A glimpse of Act 2, Scene 5.

A glimpse of Act 2, Scene 5.

Actors Coraline Renaux (Béline, Argan's wife) and Antoine Gheerbrant (Argan).

Actors Coraline Renaux (Béline, Argan's wife) and Antoine Gheerbrant (Argan).

Backstage... Léa Sorrentino as Toinette prepares to go on stage.

Backstage... Léa Sorrentino as Toinette prepares to go on stage.

Léa Gheerbrant plays Angélique, Argan's daughter and Cléante's lover.

Léa Gheerbrant plays Angélique, Argan's daughter and Cléante's love.

The last scene of the play: Argan is welcomed by surgeons and apothecaries who appoint him doctor.

The last scene of the play: Argan is welcomed by surgeons and apothecaries who appoint him doctor.

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