Après Follies, échec commercial mais succès critique, Stephen Sondheim cherche une oeuvre à adapter, avec son complice Harold Prince. Comme il avoue ne pas lire beaucoup, il voit des films et pense à un moment à La règle du jeu de Jean Renoir. Mais son attention se focalise sur une comédie romantique d’Ingmar Bergman : Sourires d’une nuit d’été, qui obtint en 1956 le prix de « l’humour poétique » au Festival de Cannes. Ce film est lui-même inspiré de la pièce de Shakespeare Songe d’une nuit d’été. Notons, pour la petite histoire, que la sublime Eva Dahlbeck, interprète de Désirée, chante à deux reprises dans le film. Bergman accepte de céder les droits de l’oeuvre (à l’exception de son titre). Hugh Wheeler, d’origine britannique, se colle à l’intrigue. Il étoffe le personnage de la mère de Désirée et ajoute un personnage féminin : l’enfant de la diva n’est plus un bambin du nom de Fredrik, mais une adolescente : Frédérika. Le livret s’articulera autour de ce trio féminin, à trois âges de la vie. Le chiffre trois revient à plusieurs reprises puisque les trois temps de la valse sont favorisés par le compositeur, et que la nuit sourit trois fois… Un quintet, sorte de choeur antique, illustrera la satire en permettant au spectateur de bénéficier d’un certain recul.

Généralités: Histoire, thèmes et particularités

Résumé

Durant un week-end dans la superbe propriété suédoise de Mme Armfeldt, des couples vont se défaire, se réunir, dans une comédie romantique acerbe. Désirée, l’actrice, désire faire sa vie avec son ancien amant, l’avocat Fredrik Egerman, actuellement l’époux d’une jeune vierge Anne. Cette dernière est éprise, sans le savoir, de Henrik, le fils de son mari. Henrik, austère, désire connaître les plaisirs de la chair avec la bonne Petra, qui tombe amoureuse d’un maître d’hôtel. Enfin, Charlotte, amie d’Anne et épouse de Carl-Magnus, un militaire actuel amant de Désirée, veut reconquérir son époux. Tout se remettra en place grâce aux stratagèmes conjugués des uns et des autres, et avec l’aide des sourires magiques d’une nuit d’été…

Synopsis complet

 

Historique du musical

Inspiration

Ce spectacle est basé sur le film "Smiles of a Summer Night" de Ingmar Bergman.

Génèse du musical

Original Broadway production
A Little Night Music opened on Broadway at the Shubert Theatre on February 25, 1973, and closed on August 3, 1974 after 601 performances and 12 previews. It moved to the Majestic Theatre on September 17, 1973 where it completed its run. It was directed by Harold Prince with choreography by Patricia Birch and design by Boris Aronson. The cast included Glynis Johns (Desiree Armfeldt), Len Cariou (Fredrik Egerman), Hermione Gingold (Madame Armfeldt), Victoria Mallory, Judith Kahan, Mark Lambert, Laurence Guittard, Patricia Elliott, George Lee Andrews, and D. Jamin Bartlett. It won the New York Drama Critics' Circle Award and the Tony Award for Best Musical.

United States tour
A US national tour began on February 26, 1974 at the Forrest Theatre, Philadelphia, and ended on February 13, 1975 at the Shubert Theatre, Boston. Jean Simmons as Desiree Armfeldt, George Lee Andrews as Fredrik Egerman and Margaret Hamilton as Madame Armfeldt headed the cast.

West End premiere
The musical premiered in the West End at the Adelphi Theatre on April 15, 1975 and starred Jean Simmons, Joss Ackland, David Kernan, Liz Robertson, and Diane Langton, with Hermione Gingold reprising her role as Madame Armfeldt. It ran for 406 performances. During the run, Angela Baddeley replaced Gingold, and Virginia McKenna replaced Simmons.

1989 West End revival
A revival opened in the West End on October 6, 1989 at the Piccadilly Theatre, directed by Ian Judge, designed by Mark Thompson, and choreographed by Anthony Van Laast. It starred Lila Kedrova as Madame Armfeldt, Dorothy Tutin as Desiree Armfeldt, Peter McEnery as Fredrick, and Susan Hampshire. The production ran for 144 performances, closing on February 17, 1990.

1995 London revival
A revival by the Royal National Theatre opened at the Olivier Theatre on September 26, 1995. It was directed by Sean Mathias, with set design by Stephen Brimson Lewis, costumes by Nicky Gillibrand, lighting by Mark Henderson and choreography by Wayne McGregor. It starred Judi Dench (Desiree), Siân Phillips (Madame Armfeldt), Joanna Riding, Laurence Guittard and Patricia Hodge. The production closed on August 31, 1996. Dench received the Olivier Award for Best Actress in a Musical.

2008 London revival
The third London revival ran at the Menier Chocolate Factory from November 22, 2008 until March 8, 2009. The production was directed by Trevor Nunn, with choreography by Lynne Page, sets and costumes by David Farley and new orchestrations by Jason Carr. The cast included Hannah Waddingham as Desiree, Alexander Hanson as Frederik, Jessie Buckley (Anne), Maureen Lipman (Mme. Armfeldt), Alistair Robins (the Count), Gabriel Vick (Henrik), Grace Link and Holly Hallam (shared role Fredrika) and Kasia Hammarlund (Petra). This critically acclaimed production transferred to the Garrick Theatre in the West End for a limited season, opening on March 28, 2009 running until July 25, 2009. This production transferred to Broadway on December 13, 2009, starring Catherine Zeta-Jones as Desiree and Angela Lansbury as Madame Armfeldt. Alexander Hanson again played Frederik.

2009 Broadway revival
The 2008 Menier Chocolate Factory production opened on Broadway at the Walter Kerr Theatre in previews on November 24, 2009 and officially on December 13, 2009, with the same creative team. The original cast starred Angela Lansbury as Madame Armfeldt and, in her Broadway debut, Catherine Zeta-Jones as Desiree. Also featured were Alexander Hanson as Frederik, Ramona Mallory as Anne, Hunter Ryan Herdlicka as Henrik, Leigh Ann Larkin as Petra, Erin Davie as the Countess, Aaron Lazar as the Count, and Bradley Dean as Frid. Zeta-Jones won the Tony for Best Leading Actress in a Musical for 2010.

The production temporarily closed on June 20, 2010 when the contracts of Zeta-Jones and Lansbury ended and resumed on July 13, with new stars Bernadette Peters as Desiree Armfeldt and Elaine Stritch as Madame Armfeldt. In an interview, Peters said that Sondheim had "proposed the idea to her this spring and urged the producers of the revival to cast her." Trevor Nunn directed rehearsals with the two new stars, and the rest of the original cast remained. Peters and Stritch extended their contracts until January 9, 2011, when the production closed with 20 previews and 425 regular performances. Before the production closed it recouped its initial investment.

Différents titres

Smiles of a Summer Night (source material)

 

Détails

Liste des chansons

Acte I
Overture — Mr. Lindquist, Mrs. Nordstrom, Mrs. Anderssen, Mr. Erlanson and Mrs. Segstrom
Night Waltz — Company
Now — Fredrik Egerman
Later — Henrik Egerman
Soon — Anne Egerman, Frederik Egerman and Henrik Egerman
The Glamorous Life — Fredrika Armfeldt, Desiree Armfeldt, Madame Armfeldt and Quintet
Remember? — Mr. Lindquist, Mrs. Nordstrom, Mrs. Anderssen, Mr. Erlanson and Mrs. Segstrom
You Must Meet My Wife — Desiree Armfeldt and Fredrik Egerman
Liaisons — Madame Armfeldt
In Praise of Women — Count Carl-Magnus Malcolm
Every Day a Little Death — Countess Charlotte Malcolm and Anne Egerman
Weekend in the Country — Company

Acte II
Entracte — Orchestra
Night Waltz I (The Sun Won't Set) — Mr. Lindquist, Mrs. Nordstrom, Mrs. Anderssen, Mr. Erlanson and Mrs. Segstrom
Night Waltz II (The Sun Sits Low) — Mr. Lindquist, Mrs. Nordstrom, Mrs. Anderssen, Mr. Erlanson and Mrs. Segstrom
It Would Have Been Wonderful — Fredrik Egerman and Count Carl-Magnus Malcolm
Perpetual Anticipation — Mrs. Nordstrom, Mrs. Segstrom and Mrs. Anderssen
Dinner Table Scene — Orchestra
Send in the Clowns — Desiree Armfeldt
The Miller's Son — Petra
Reprises — Mr. Lindquist, Mrs. Nordstrom, Mrs. Anderssen, Mr. Erlanson and Mrs. Segstrom
Send in the Clowns (reprise) — Desiree Armfeldt, Fredrik Egerman
Last Waltz — Orchestra

Liste des rôles

Fredrik Egerman: A successful widowed middle-aged lawyer. He is married to the 18-year-old Anne and has one son from his previous marriage, Henrik.
Anne Egerman: Fredrik's new, naive wife.
Henrik Egerman: Fredrik's son, 20 years old and Anne's stepson. He is serious but confused, as he reads the works of philosophers and theologians as he studies for the Lutheran priesthood.
Petra: Anne's maid and closest confidante.
Desiree Armfeldt: Self-absorbed, once-successful actress, now touring the country-side in what is clearly not the "glamorous life".
Fredrika Armfeldt: Desiree's thirteen-year-old daughter, who may or may not be the product (unbeknownst to Fredrik) of the actress's and Fredrik's affair.
Madame Armfeldt: Desiree's mother, who has had "liaisons" with royalty.
Count Carl-Magnus Malcolm: A military dragoon who is Desiree's latest lover.
Charlotte Malcolm: Carl-Magnus' wife.
Frid: Madame Armfeldt's manservant.
The Liebeslieder Singers: Mr. Lindquist, Mrs. Nordstrom, Mrs. Anderssen, Mr. Erlanson and Mrs. Segstrom. A group of five singers that act as a Greek chorus. (Prince said that these characters represent "people in the show who aren't wasting time ... The play is about wasting time.")

Textes disponibles on-line

Texte des chansons

 Chansons en anglais

Pour en savoir plus

Aucun dossier informatif complémentaire concernant A Little Night Music.

Quelques remarques

Ce que la critique en pense...
In his review of the original 1973 Broadway production, Clive Barnes in the New York Times called the musical "heady, civilized, sophisticated and enchanting." He noted that "the real triumph belongs to Stephen Sondheim...the music is a celebration of 3/4 time, an orgy of plaintively memorable waltzes, all talking of past loves and lost worlds...There is a peasant touch here." He commented that the lyrics are "breathtaking".

In its review of the 1989 London revival, the reviewer for The Guardian wrote that the "production also strikes me as infinitely superior to Harold Prince's 1975 version at the Adelphi. Mr Judge's great innovation is to transform the Liebeslieder Singers from the evening-dressed, after-dinner line-up into 18th century ghosts weaving in and out of the action...But Mr Judge's other great realisation is that, in Sondheim, the lyrics are not an adornment to a song but their very essence: understand them and the show will flow. Thus Dorothy Tutin as Desiree, the touring thesp eventually reunited with her quondam lover, is not the melting romantic of previous productions but a working mother with the sharpness of a hat-pin."

The Independent review of the 1995 National Theatre revival praised the production, writing "For three hours of gloriously barbed bliss and bewitchment, Sean Mathias's production establishes the show as a minor miracle of astringent worldly wisdom and one that is haunted by less earthy intimations." The review went on to state that "The heart of the production, in both senses, is Judi Dench's superb Desiree Armfeldt...Her husky-voiced rendering of "Send in the Clowns" is the most moving I've ever heard."

In reviewing the 2008 Menier Chocolate Factory production, The Telegraph reviewer wrote that "Sondheim's lyrics are often superbly witty, his music here, mostly in haunting waltz-time, far more accessible than is sometimes the case. The score positively throbs with love, regret and desire." But of the specific production, the reviewer went on to note: "But Nunn's production, on one of those hermetic sets largely consisting of doors and tarnished mirrors that have become such a cliché in recent years, never penetrates the work's subtly erotic heart. And as is often the case with this director's work, the pace is so slow and the mood so reverent, that initial enchantment gives way to bored fidgeting."

In his New York Times review of the 2009 Broadway production, Ben Brantley noted that "the expression that hovers over Trevor Nunn's revival...feels dangerously close to a smirk...It is a smirk shrouded in shadows. An elegiac darkness infuses this production." The production is "sparing on furniture and heavy on shadows", with "a scaled-down orchestra at lugubriously slowed-down tempos..." He goes on to write that "this somber, less-is-more approach could be effective were the ensemble plugged into the same rueful sensibility. But there is only one moment in this production when all its elements cohere perfectly. That moment, halfway through the first act, belongs to Ms. Lansbury, who has hitherto been perfectly entertaining, playing Madame Armfeldt with the overripe aristocratic condescension of a Lady Bracknell. Then comes her one solo, "Liaisons", in which her character thinks back on the art of love as a profession in a gilded age, when sex 'was but a pleasurable means to a measurable end.' Her face, with its glamour-gorgon makeup, softens, as Madame Armfeldt seems to melt into memory itself, and the wan stage light briefly appears to borrow radiance from her. It's a lovely example of the past reaching out to the present..."

Steven Suskin, reviewing the new Broadway cast for Variety, wrote "What a difference a diva makes. Bernadette Peters steps into the six-month-old revival of 'A Little Night Music' with a transfixing performance, playing it as if she realizes her character's onstage billing -- "the one and only Desiree Armfeldt" -- is cliched hyperbole. By figuratively rolling her eyes at the hype, Peters gives us a rich, warm and comedically human Desiree, which reaches full impact when she pierces the facade with a nakedly honest, tears-on-cheek 'Send in the Clowns.'"

 

Versions du musical

Versions majeures de A Little Night Music

Mais aussi, quelques versions régionales ou mineures, ... de A Little Night Music

 

Multimedia on-line

Vidéos on-line

Interview B. Peters & E Stritch (1/4)

A Little Night Music (2009-11-Walter Kerr Theatre-Broadway)

Qualité: ***** Intérêt: *****
Langue:
Anglais Durée: 00:02:05


Interview B. Peters & E Stritch (2/4)

A Little Night Music (2009-11-Walter Kerr Theatre-Broadway)

Qualité: ***** Intérêt: *****
Langue:
Anglais Durée: 00:01:54


Interview B. Peters & E Stritch (3/4)

A Little Night Music (2009-11-Walter Kerr Theatre-Broadway)

Qualité: ***** Intérêt: *****
Langue:
Anglais Durée: 00:02:03


Interview B. Peters & E Stritch (4/4)

A Little Night Music (2009-11-Walter Kerr Theatre-Broadway)

Qualité: ***** Intérêt: *****
Langue:
Anglais Durée: 00:02:03


 

Principaux CD du musical



Liste détaillée des principaux CD

 

Captations du musical