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.
Operetta arias and saucy chansons
Norma Nahoun soprano
Marie Gautrot mezzo-soprano
Pauline Buet cello
David Violi piano
Victoria Duhamel conception and semi-staging
Guardando dal buco, si viene a saper tutto... dal buco della serratura.
Maurice Yvain, «Pas sur la bouche», 1925
En regardant par le trou, c'est comm'ça qu'on connaît tout... par le trou de la serrure.
Maurice yvain, Pas sur la bouche, 1925