Opera for young audience.
Oh yes, I know, you are thinking that French wine has bad effects on little brains.
You are not at all.
This is a very serious story.
The whole story comes from a gift. It was Uncle Alfred, who had given the little girls, Delphine and Marinette, a box of paints, each one. A beautiful box full of wonderful colors – with a big brush, a medium brush and a small thin brush to do the details. There was also a cup, to put the water and dip the brushes.
The little girls were delighted.
But not their parents.
There was work to do before playing. We had to pick the beans and collect the clover. No playing until it was done.
Then the parents went to work in the fields.
The girls were disappointed – luckily, the duck, the dog and the pig offered to help them – so don’t worry and paint with all your heart, the job will be done.
So they went to the meadow and settled down, with a poetic soul.
The donkey arrived.
– Shall I paint your portrait?
Of course the donkey was very flattered.
He posed – and didn’t forget to point out that his ears weren’t that big.
When he looked at the result, he was mortified: he didn’t know he was so ugly. But what really hurt him was to see that he had only two legs. Delphine tried to explain that she was seeing him in profile, but too late the damage was done – he left upset as a louse.
Marinette was painting a green grasshopper in the green grass in the green meadow. In the end, we could only see… green.
When the oxen asked for their portrait, the girls answered that it was impossible, they were white and their leaves were white – they would not have existed – Oh yes, it is like that? okay, okay… no offense…
When the horse and the rooster arrived, ready to steal each other’s feathers, the idea of the portraits calmed the argument. Alas, in the end: the horse was much smaller than the rooster.
The rooster was delighted and laughed heavily at the horse.
When the parents came back, it was a disaster: their donkey was really only two legs long. The oxen had disappeared – since they did not exist – the horse was tiny – the rooster gigantic.
They sensed that their daughters had done something stupid – but the girls denied it, of course – the work had been done.
Suspicious, the parents ran to the vet.
Disaster to the power of a thousand! The veterinarian would understand that the animals had the disease of the paint boxes.
What to do? What to do? The little ones would be punished. The pretty paint boxes would be confiscated. The parents would soon know who had picked the beans and clover.
Quickly, the little girls tried to fix the mistakes – oh yes, this time the drawings were very realistic.
The donkey had all four legs and a proud appearance.
But then the vet came – and no return to normal.
What to do?
What to do?
Would they be saved?
This, at the beginning, is a short story, a tale, told by Mr. Marcel Aymé, the Story of the Paint boxes, in the Tales of the Perched Cat.
The most beautiful stories do not remain long between their pages.
It has been adapted for the stage – and more particularly for the opera stage – by Isabelle Aboulker, who is keen to share her love of opera and her love of stories with children.
I know it’s in French – but the song doesn’t really count – and the lines aren’t very long.
I know that the staging could have been so much more exciting – but it’s a French staging and … these are the ideas we have here.
So in English with a little more investment in the staging (and even then, not much, it’s mostly about fleshing out the set and probably adding a few performers anyway), it will be a very, very nice way to bring kids to the Opera.
An opportunity like this cannot be refused.
What would you have done in my place? You would have said yes.
I have no idea what I would have done in your place – but I think I might have agreed with you.