Gourmet Fair

An Ode to A Midsummer Night’s Dream

Elves and sylphs (Edmonde Charles-Roux is in the center) in this 1942 production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. ©Victor Grandpierre courtesy Alexandre Biaggi gallery. Handout via The Gourmet Gazette

Paris, France — A midsummer night’s dream is unfolding in Paris at the Alexandre Biaggi gallery which specializes in decor and furnishings and objects of the 20th century. It was July 27th, 1942, Paris was living through the dark hours of the Occupation. But Lily Pastré, patron of the arts, musician, one of the founders of the Aix-en-Provence festival and a resistance fighter had created in 1940 the association Pour que l’esprit vive (May the Spirit Live) and she decided to stage a production of William Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream in her castle and estate in Marseille. The Countess Pastré brought in Christian Bérard — artist, fashion illustrator and designer — to design the costumes and the fairytale was performed on that midsummer night of July 27th, 1942.

Liliane Valais in the role of Titania, Queen of the Fairies in this 1942 production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream.Photo ©Victor Grandpierre courtesy Alexandre Biaggi gallery. Handout via The Gourmet Gazette

Today the gallery is showcasing black and white, ethereal photographs of the performance and its backstage by Victor Grandpierre who immortalized this exceptional event, in an exhibition entitled Le Songe d’une nuit d’été, the French title of Shakespeare’s dreamiest work. Grandpierre was a photographer before becoming one of France’s great interior decorators, notably to Christian Dior. The French writer Edmonde Charles-Roux whose mother was a friend of the Countess Pastré incarnated a sylph in the fleeting production. The beauty of the production remains as an intelligent reply to the violence of war. The event was a tribute to life with the flying costumes of the fairies seemingly in flight. The show in the jewel-box like deco of the Alexander Biaggi gallery also features watercolors by Christian Bérard and furniture by the French interior designer Jean Michel Frank.
©The Gourmet Gazette
Until July 27th
14 rue de Seine
75006 Paris, France
Tel: +33 (0)1 44 07 34 73

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