Fauvel is a monstrous and stupid beast, the leader of a land where lies and corruption triumph happily. He is supported by a host of ministers, power brokers and multi-millionaires who shamelessly flatter him, carefully rubbing him up the right way, and polish his backside taking great care never to ruffle his feathers. Meanwhile, chaos triumphs as the nation comes apart. This strikingly modern story was bequeathed to us 700 years ago by a handful of artists and intellectuals who wrote and circulated a strange and subversive satire: the Roman de Fauvel, a sumptuous manuscript of which, with its jumble of texts, illustrated vignettes and musical scores, is kept in the Bibliothèque Nationale in Paris.

This wry allegory is brought to the stage by Peter Sellars, accompanied by seven singers from the early music ensemble Sequentia and its artistic director, Benjamin Bagby. Sequentia specialises in medieval repertoire, particularly music with text or accompanying narratives, and will bring this richly textured novel to life like no other. Peter Sellars, a familiar figure at the Châtelet since the end of the 1990s (El Niño, L’Amour de loin, Le Grand Macabre, etc.), has acquired an international reputation for his innovative interpretations of early masterpieces and for his collaborations with numerous artists. On this occasion, he once again teams up with Alice Goodman, the librettist of John Adams’ opera Nixon in China, which became an instant 20th century classic. Goodman will compose a new text that will be inserted between Fauvel’s musical pages, where an exquisite pastiche of medieval novels will alternate with a deliciously corrosive depiction of our world today.

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