Two Performances Reflect Sheer Parisian Epicurean Delight

by Sean Hillen

Being the vibrant cosmopolitan city that it is, Paris offers visitors a wide choice of memorable musical experiences and here are two outstanding ones that reflect the French capital’s sheer artistic innovation. Tickets to both shows can be organized by the efficient team of Theatre in Paris.

Paradis Latin Cabaret

Photos by Columbia Hillen

Among the many reasons to see Paradis Latin Cabaret’s latest offering, the exciting new ‘L’oiseau Paradis,’ are its creative choreography, dynamic performances from dancers dressed in life-like animal costumes and the show’s playful, mischievous humor.

Sensory, almost giddy, delights to both eye and ear are further enhanced as the ‘action’ rushes at you from so many different directions. One minute you could be looking at the main stage in front and the next, craning your head to see a line of dancers along the top balcony or others being lowered on giant bubbles from the ceiling, or even perched on a silver horse.

This, almost hypnotic, show gives rich meaning to the phrase ‘mingling is tingling,’ as the entire cast prance, dance and cavort among the audience, granting the performance that irresistible sense of participation, making it even more thrilling. 

Indicating its sheer scope, it involves more than 500 costumes created for the occasion by La Maison de Couture Parisienne.

A dazzling show that sizzles, includes taste and smell among the senses served, as guests can enjoy – as my companion and I did –  a 3-course dinner with choice of fish, meat or vegetarian, with a bottle of organic red wine (Domaine de la Brillane L’Odyssée 2016).

Photo by Jeremie Lamarch

So captivating were the on-stage performances, it is hard to choose the best. Without divulging too much here, the highlights for my companion and I included what is best described as a jaw-dropping acrobatic routine on top of a bathtub; a comic sketch with a recurring theme and a hapless man; a dazzling technicolor costume transformation of Iris Mittenaere, former Miss France and Miss Universe 2016, lead dancer in the troupe; and a thought-provoking dance involving humans and alien-like robots.

And, of course, no French cabaret would be complete without its own flamboyant rendition of the famous ‘Can-can,’ the high-energy, physically demanding dance that became popular in music-halls in the 1840s. Watching the gravity-defying acts of athleticism by both male and female dancers startled me into utter amazement, nay disbelief.

Combined with this high-level entertainment is the fact that the show takes place in an architectural gem of a building first constructed by Napoleon Bonaparte, then First Consul of France, in 1803, a theater on the rue des Fosses-Saint-Victor, in the heart of Paris, at the very spot where once stood, a century before, a fortification known as ‘the wall of Philippe Auguste.’ It was then rebuilt by Gustav Eiffel in 1889 just in time for the World’s Fair. 

Now owned by American entrepreneur Walter Butler, Paradis Latin Cabaret has a maximum capacity of 700 seats and guests have three options to choose from – the show itself alone, champagne and the show or a complete dinner.

Photo by Romuald Meigneux

Make sure to enjoy the wonderful ambience as you enter through the foyer. Murano glass, original posters on walls and velvet curtains all add to the evening’s experience and flamboyantly-dressed, Roberto Chaves from Brazil, who has worked there for 25 years and also organises the annual Brazilian-French festival, will be among the colorful ‘Ambassadors’ greeting you warmly at the door. 

Describing his mission, director and choreographer of ‘L’oiseau Paradis,’ Kamel Ouali said, “I want to catch people as soon as they arrive in the cabaret and immerse them in a surreal and surprising universe to make them live a unique experience.”

He has certainly succeeded in doing that.

Sainte-Chapelle Concert Series

In contrast to the eclectic dynamism of Paradis Latin Cabaret, try catching one of the inspiring, almost spiritual, concerts hosted at the elegant and historic Sainte-Chapelle on the Île de la Cité in the center of Paris, just minutes from Notre Dame Cathedral.

This is no ordinary classical music concert, of which there are many in Paris. This is a truly uplifting experience and only partially because of the immense skills of the musicians. The exquisite setting seals the deal on a memorable evening.

Seated in the dazzling ambience of this Gothic masterpiece constructed under Louis IX in the first half of the 13th century, its design based on the Carolingian palatine chapels with perfect natural acoustics, one is transported to another world.

Sainte-Chapelle belongs to the ‘Rayonnant’ period, an architectural style characterised by an increased emphasis on ornate decoration rather than grand size. The chapel formed part of the medieval Palais de la Cité, where the French monarchy resided until the 14th century. With 15 windows that stretch to 15 metres high, the Sainte Chapelle contains one of the most extensive collections of stained glass anywhere in the world. Its panels depict a total of 1,113 scenes from both Old and New Testament. 

Here, alongside around 100 other people, my companion and I sat for over an hour mesmerised by an event organised by Euromusic Productions – often raising our eyes to the vaulted ceilings and gorgeous stainless windows high above, all earthly concerns swept away by the feast of sight and sound before and around us. 

Six brilliant musicians, Les Solistes Francais (French Soloists), under the leadership of Paul Rouger, graduates of the most prestigious European conservatories of Paris, Lyons, Lausanne and Brussels, performed Johann Pachelbel’s famous ‘Canon,’ an adagio by Tommaso Albinoni and Antonio Vivaldi’s ‘Four Seasons.’ 

Not only is Rouger an immensely talented solo violinist, he also emanates warmth and humor and his arrangements were superb. His penchant for stepping into the shadows at key moments of the performance created added dramatic effect. 

Les Solistes Francais perform in other venues throughout France and although they specialise in a classical music repertoire, they also play music of all styles and eras, including jazz. 

To make your experience even more unforgettable, you can choose from a selection of unique add-ons upon booking, such as dinner or champagne. 

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