Amphitryon in front of the garden facade of the Hôtel Sully in 1963 – The Marais saved by its festival

The Festival du Marais dates back to a time that those under 60 cannot know. However, this leading artistic event was for a long time one of the most popular cultural events in the capital.

For a quarter of a century, from 1962 to 1987, this unique festival of its kind (at the time there was none comparable in Paris) hosted high-quality open-air shows in the courtyards of the neighborhood's private mansions.

Plays, classical concerts, ballet performances, operas and even variety music: the programming was remarkable. The Paris Opera Ballet performed in the courtyard of the Hôtel Soubise (where the National Archives are located); we played plays by Eugène Ionesco in front of the Orangerie of the Hôtel de Sully (between Place des Vosges and Rue Saint-Antoine); concertists performed the baroque music of Jean-Philippe Rameau on old instruments in the garden of the Hôtel d'Aumont (near the Seine).

Scenic arrangement Hôtel de Soubise in 1964 – The Marais saved by its festival

These are just a few examples because the list is too long to list all the works given in the Marais and signed Shakespeare, Molière, Corneille, Marivaux, Bertolt Brecht, Monteverdi, Prokofiev, Mozart, Bach, Stravinsky, Ravel but also Jacques Dutronc and Georges Brassens.

Danton in front of the garden façade of the Hôtel Sully in 1965 – The Marais saved by its festival

“Sometimes the shows had a historical link with the Marais, like the Marriage of Figaro performed in 1963 at the Hôtel de Sully that Beaumarchais wrote at the Hôtel Amelot in Bisseuil, the concerts of works by Nicolas Lebègue on the organ of the Saint-Merri church, of which he was head from 1664 to 1702, or The Death of Seneca by Tristan l'Hermite, created at the Théâtre du Marais in 1644, staged at the Hôtel Lamavoine", we read in The Marais saved by its festival (1).

Very classic at the beginning, the festival gradually opened up to other artistic forms: variety shows with Barbara, jazz with Daniel Humair, François Jeanneau and Henri Texier, contemporary dance with Alvin Ailey Danse Company, café-theater with Jean-Michel Ribes, or even open-air cinema and popular balls on Place Sainte-Catherine.

Back cover – Volunteers in front of the Maison d’Ourscamp in May 1967

Among the best-known artists to have performed at the festival: Jean Vilar, Jean-Pierre Cassel, Jean Desailly, Simone Valère, Fanny Ardant, Coline Serreau, Silvia Montfort, Daniel Barenboïm, Juliette Gréco, Georges Brassens, Jacques Dutronc, Barbara , Michel Polnareff, Serge Lama, Léo Ferré, Jean Ferrat, Guy Bedos.

Promoted with lots of advertisements in Le Figaro and L'Express, the event attracted everyone in Paris but also personalities like Prince Rainier and Princess Grace of Monaco, or Prince Albert and Princess Paola of Belgium.

Prince Rainier and Princess Grace of Monaco at the Hô tel d’Aumont in 1967 – The Marais saved by its festival

The years 1965-1967 are remembered as “the glorious three” with more than 50 shows each time, followed by more than 70.000 spectators. The year 1967, which saw the Grand Ballet of the Novosibirsk Opera (who came specially from the Soviet Union to perform the complete version of Sleeping Beauty), break a record with 105.000 spectators.

Will they eat at the Hotel d’Aumont in 1985 – The Marais saved by its festival

In addition to memories, the Marais Festival leaves behind a beautiful collection of posters that the Association for the Safeguarding and Enhancement of Historic Paris was kind enough to pass on to us so that we can publish them in the Marais Mood.

(1) On sale at the Association for the Safeguarding and Enhancement of Historic Paris, 44-46, rue François Miron (4th)

House of Ourscamps
Association for safeguarding and the enhancement of historic Paris
46, rue François Miron, 75004 Paris
Monday to Friday from 13AM to 18PM
Saturday from 12 am to 19 pm
Sunday from 14h to 18h
Tel: +01 48 87 74 31

Text: Axel G.

26.01.22

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WHAAAAAAAT?!

 

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