1st Festival Palazzetto Bru Zane in Berlin

Les Fleurs du mâle

The ‘Belle Époque’ and the ‘Années folles’, as is well known, were the period of emancipation of a sensuality that nineteenth-century morality had reproved without success. As early as the 1860s, operetta cultivated the romance with saucy double-entendres, while the popular café-concert witnessed the flowering of chansons with perfectly unequivocal words, whose erotic content verged on pornography. Although, in those days, a woman’s power was deprived of expression in both political and economic terms, at least the potency of her charms ensured she could govern men and impose her views on them. From high-society courtesans to low-life prostitutes, female ‘merchants of pleasure’ made headline news from the middle of the Second Empire to the Second World War. Their charms were even vaunted on the musical stage, and such great artists as Hortense Schneider and Anna Judic were none the less noted ‘protégées’ of the powerful men of the moment. The suggestive titles of their biggest successes leave little room for doubt: ‘Les oranges de mon étagère’ (The oranges on my shelf), ‘Turlurette et Rantanplan’, ‘Je n’savais pas qu’c’était ça’ (I never knew it was like that), ‘Par le trou’ (Through the hole), ‘Ma sœur fait ça dans l’ascenseur’ (My sister does it in the lift) and so on.


Concert program

Chansons coquines de café-concert


Norma Nahoun soprano
Marie Gautrot mezzosoprano
Pauline Buet cello
David Violi piano

Victoria Duhamel scenic design and reading