A Medieval Tornament/Le Tournoi: 2007

English      French

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In the context of Anne Azéma’s residency at the
Arsenal de Metz (France) (link, please),
the staged live production will be premiered in
February 2007.

1. The Manuscript

The Tournament of Chauvency, written in 1285 by the French poet Jacques Brétel, is a charming narration of a courtly celebration in the Lorraine region, and a window into courtly life and manners during the Middle Ages.

The tournament itself, as well as the songs, dances, and courtly games mentioned in the text, form the inspiration for the musical theatre evening conceived by Anne Azéma.

Held between October 1 and 5, 1285, the tournament as described by Brétel in his 4,500 lines of verse is both local and international. The people who come together for it, great and small, knights, ladies, heralds, spectators as well, come from the north-eastern corner of what is now France, but also from England, Brabant, the Isle de France, the Berry, Savoy, and the Ruhr.

Several old manuscripts transmit this text to us. The most beautiful, decorated by fifteen miniatures, is now at Oxford (Bodleian, Ms Douce 308), and was probably copied early in the fourteenth century. It is an exceptional, hybrid work, including literature, history, song and dance, the rules of chivalry, the art of love, and a guide to polite conversation.

2. The Live Production

This is a fully staged event, including songs, instrumental music, spoken texts, lights, movement, and costumes.

The evening and the night are the domain of women, who converse in music and dance, far from the masculine violence of the daylight.

Among themselves and with their male suitors and companions, they converse on the subjects of love and longing: ‘d’amour, d’armes et de joie est ma matiere’.‘d’amour, d’armes et de joie est ma matiere’.

Mutual desire arises during the male-led tournament, and then during the female-led evening activities of song and flirtation. The movement of each sex towards the other is expressed in the differing genres -- aggressive and courtly, passionate and playful.

"Love makes one heart out of two"-- the deepest joy grows from an equal dialogue, a desire shared according to the rules of courtly love.

3. The Synopsis – work in progress, subject to changes -
© Anne Azéma, 2005:

Introduction : ‘D’amour et d’armes et de joie est ma matiere’.

I. Arms : Dawn and Day
Processional – away from the real world - Tutti

A lone man laments his solitude
The knights present themselves, they sing
In Chauvency, all applaud and yell
To the fight they go !
From afar, ladies are watching ; the heralds comments
The tornament begins : ‘why battle’ ?
Bright colours, banners, breathing, moaning, encouragement, snorting
Instruments : winds and percussions
The ‘demand’ is made to the ladies

From the tornament to the evening -- all leave the world tornament -- tutti movement, women and men move towards night and…

II. Love : ‘Puis vint la nuit’

Mixed company
Deeper colours, torches
Vielle and tabor, all instruments.

The women, alone.
Questions without answers : what is love, should one give in ?

Jeu du Robardel – comic and erotic – some men are spectators
Vielle and mime
The stolen kiss

Women and men sing and dance, one after the other

An oral tornament – a man sings -- a woman sings

The knights, changed, come to get the women – the cercle becomes tighter

III. La grand’ joie: All are silent

A lone woman laments her solitude

Danse du chapelet : she mimes waiting for love
Her partner is chosen :
‘ Dame, voici le bacheler’
‘ J’ai attaint ce que je voloie’

Ladies and knights repeat the song – together with instruments.

IV. Departure and Coda

‘Ainsi entrent ils dans la danse’ : the white belt dance
Tutti, voices and instruements.

‘Vais-je donc sur le bon chemin, Vous qui d’amour connaissez la voie ? ‘

c. Anne Azéma, 2005

4. The Crew

For this production and for the time being we are proposing the following crew :

- Anne Azéma, singing, Music Director
- Shira Kammen, vielle, rebec, harp, singing
- Eight singers.

5. The Cast

Anne Azéma, Music Director, singing

Francesca Lattuada, Stage Director

Ensemble Aziman

This part of our page under construction, as the tournoi is being cast.

6. Management and Contacts

Click here for Contact Information