Saturday, November 17, 2007

Moliere via Rossini

Went to the Marjanishvili Theatre (Tbilisi) tonight for a play advertised as Moliere's 'Vain Doctor'. My colleagues told me the title would have been better translated as the 'Fake Doctor'. Whatever.

Had not been able to find any reference in the internet to a play of either title, so I tried to memorize the names of the characters - and now I've found it; it was 'Le medecin malgre lui' (imagine the accents in the right places). Did you know that this site apparait a avoir les textes complets de tout ce qui Moliere a ecrit? Merveilleux! So I could just quickly read what I have just watched.

It was a generally traditional performance, as far as you can get 'traditional' in Georgia. Certainly the frocks were traditional - the stage was rather bare, with bits and pieces hinting at this corner of countryside and that bourgeois living-room. I think the play is about a chap from the country who is paid to pretend to be a doctor, to cure someone's potential wife (or perhaps his daughter) of her stutter; she is in love with someone else (as she should be if she is his daughter), and when the right couple finally gets together ....and so on. It's a short play - with the interval we were out in just under 2 hours. I suspect the big red pencil may have gone through some scenes.

Like all plays in Georgia, it turned into a musical - but a Rossini musical! When the curtain opened, I thought - does this theatre use the same music for everything? But then I remembered that last time I had heard that tune played on a piano it was at the Russian Drama Theatre in Vilnius, when they put on Beaumarchais' play 'The Barber of Seville' to the same music, in the style of the Swingle Singers. I must see if it will be on when I will be in Vilnius next month.

Here they went further, sometimes with orchestral interludes, sometimes with the piano, often singing the arias, sometimes as they are, sometimes adapted to one word, and sometimes in Georgian. Naturally it was not the quality of singing you'd expect in the opera house, but it was a pretty good effort. Probably Moliere had also not written into his play the group of belly-dancing girls which were extremely effectively accompanied by one of the actors playing an Arabic string instrument and singing. (The Marjanishvili theatre seems to be blessed with multi-talented actors, though the young flautist is not the best actress...).

Even though I had not a word of Georgian, and no idea what the play might be about, other than that I know a bit about Moliere's plays and had some idea from the title, I could follow it more or less. Probably if you know the plot it would go even better - but it was a lovely show, and a lovely evening out! Worth doing again.