Les mariés de la tour Eiffel
Les mariés de la tour Eiffel (The Wedding Party on the Eiffel Tower) is a ballet to a libretto by Jean Cocteau, choreography by Jean Börlin, set by Irène Lagut, costumes by Jean Hugo, and music by five members of Les Six – Georges Auric, Arthur Honegger, Darius Milhaud, Francis Poulenc and Germaine Tailleferre. The score calls for two narrators. The ballet was first performed in Paris in 1921.
The ballet had its genesis in a commission to Jean Cocteau and Georges Auric, from Rolf de Maré of the Ballets suédois. Cocteau's original title for his scenario was The Wedding Party Massacre. It has been suggested that Raymond Radiguet, the young writer close to Cocteau at the time, made some contribution to the libretto.
It was staged by the Ballets suédois at the Théâtre des Champs-Élysées in Paris on 18 June 1921, the principal dancers being C. Ari, J. Figoni, and K. Vahlander. The orchestra was conducted by Désiré-Émile Inghelbrecht. The narrators were Jean Cocteau and Pierre Bertin.
The story of the ballet is somewhat nonsensical:
- The new couple have a wedding breakfast on Bastille Day (July 14) at a table on one of the platforms of the famous tower. A guest makes a pompous speech. When a humpbacked photographer bids everyone to "watch the birdie," it appears that a telegraph office suddenly springs into existence on the platform. A lion comes in and eats one of the guests for breakfast and a strange figure called "a child of the future" appears and kills everybody. Nevertheless, the ballet concludes with the end of the wedding.
When asked what the ballet was about, Cocteau replied: "Sunday vacuity; human beastliness, ready-made expressions, disassociation of ideas from flesh and bone, ferocity of childhood, the miraculous poetry of everyday life."
The sections of the ballet are:
- Overture (14 July) - Georges Auric
- Marche nuptiale - Darius Milhaud
- Discours du General (Polka) – Francis Poulenc
- La Baigneuse de Trouville – Poulenc
- La Fugue du Massacre – Milhaud
- La Valse des Depeches – Germaine Tailleferre
- Marche funèbre – Arthur Honegger (in which he quotes the Waltz from Gounod's Faust)
- Quadrille – Tailleferre
- Ritournelles – Auric
- Sortie de la Noce – Milhaud.
In 1987, Marius Constant arranged the music for an ensemble of fifteen instruments: wind quintet, string quintet, trumpet, trombone, harp and two percussion. This version of the music has been recorded by the Erwartung Ensemble under Bernard Desgraupes, with Jean-Pierre Aumont and Raymond Gerome, narrators.