24 November 2023

In 2021, the Palazzetto Bru Zane – Center for French Romantic Music founded in Venice – published the first complete discography of Reynaldo Hahn’s musical O my beautiful stranger. A purely musical version, without the spoken text. It was fortunately completed by the co-production of a show created at the Opéra de Tours at the end of 2012 with another cast, currently being performed at the Athénée, in Paris until April 16 (before Dijon, Rouen, Avignon and Massy in Essone).

Charming and passionate, with a pretty round and supple voice, Sheva Tehoval has all the attributes of Marie-Anne, a young girl in search of the absolute

This second collaboration of the composer with Sacha Guitry, master of the beautiful spirit, is accompanied by a string of versified bon mots, puns, traits and homophonies. The synopsis, between music and theatre, is as vaudeville as one could wish. Prosper Aubertin is a hatter who has nothing to do with a chaplain. Tired of domestic quarrels with Antoinette, his wife, and his daughter Anne-Marie, he dreams of changing his life and decides to take a mistress. “I’m bored like a dead rat behind a trunk”, he sighs. A small announcement – “Mons. single and rich. » – passed in a newspaper under the heading of “Small Correspondence” will do. But the good man was flabbergasted when, in the middle of the 131 replies received poste restante, he recognized the writings of his wife and daughter, while the maid pretended to be a countess.

The lively staging of Emeline Bayard, who also portrays the good Félicie with the banter of Arletty, creator of the role in 1933, hits the mark, between slamming doors and replicas, letters read in secret, and the creaking grand staircase , leading from the hat shop to the Aubertins’ apartments. Stung to the quick, the master of the house will embark on a love correspondence with each of them, revealing and exacerbating in these ladies the same desire for adventure that he himself feels. Which will make the good man say, at first revolted then bitterly compassionate: “To pour out their hearts in this way… do they have to be unhappy. » However, a lesson is in order, if only to encourage the impudent to be less imprudent. Aubertin hatched his plan. After having modeled the character of these ladies by force of epistolary cajoling to his liking (no more recriminations and shouting, wife, daughter and maid are now joyful and loving), he secretly invites all three of them to join their “beautiful stranger” at the villa Mon Rêve, which he rented for this purpose on the Basque coast.

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