Le Misanthrope

The Misanthrope
by Molière
Directed by Clément Hervieu-Léger

Richelieu

12 April 17 July 2014

Richelieu

Le Misanthrope

2014-04-12 00:00:00 2014-07-17 00:00:00

Alceste is in love with Célimène, an independent-minded young woman who, following her recent widowhood, has taken to presiding over her own salon. Troubled by a trial whose outcome he fears, Alceste goes to her home, accompanied by his friend Philinte, whom he reproaches for his complacent attitude towards society.

He wants his mistress to publicly declare her affections to him. But he hadn’t counted on the unexpected arrival of a gentleman who writes terrible poetry, two Marquis of the Court, Célimène’s cousin Eliante, who has taken an apartment above Célimène’s, and Arsinoé, who warns Célimène that there are rumours about her character circulating. The Misanthrope depicts a society free from parental and religious influence, whose social veneer peels away as soon as desire is aroused. Over the course of a day, while being pushed to the limit by Alceste’s uncompromising resistance to all forms of social niceties, the characters reveal the contradictions of human beings who obey reasons of the heart that are unknowable to reason.


Molière, the author
Molière took his time writing the five-act Misanthrope. It was started in 1664 during the Tartuffe affair and first performed in 1666 on the stage of the Palais-Royal with Molière in the role of “the man with green ribbons”. Initially, the play disconcerted audiences used to French farce and commedia dell’arte. But this comedy in verse was immediately hailed by critics, Subligny describing it as “an inimitable masterpiece”, and Donneau of Vise praising it for making “continuous laughter in the soul”. The Misanthrope remains a unique comedy in Molière’s work as it combines naturalness and truth to portray a salon torn between civil society and a court society subject to monarchical power.

Clément Hervieu-Léger, the director
The actor and director Clément Hervieu-Léger joined the Comédie-Française in 2005. Outside the Comédie-Française, he has directed Francesco Cavalli’s Didone with the Les Art Florissants ensemble conducted by William Christie, and Marivaux’s The Test with the Petits Champs company he has co-directed since 2010. It was after staging The Critique of the School for Wives at the Studio-Théâtre in 2011 that Clément Hervieu-Léger decided to direct The Misanthrope, a comedy in verse whose roots can be found in the prose play. Fascinated by the “sociological perspective” that Molière brings to bear on the tensions of a society salon in crisis, the director intends to explore the Grand Siècle through a “theatre of the incarnation”.

Creative team

Direction: Clément Hervieu-Léger
Direction assistant: Juliette Léger
Scenography: Éric Ruf
Scenography assistant: Dominique Schmitt
Costumes: Caroline de Vivaise
Lights: Bertrand Couderc
Music: Pascal Sangla
Sound design: Jean-Luc Ristord
Hairdressing: Fabrice Elineau

Distribution

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The Comédie-Française Academy

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