L'Enfant et les sortilèges - Synopsis

Maurice Ravel: L'Enfant et les sortilèges. Tara Erraught (Das Kind) Maurice Ravel: L'Enfant et les sortilèges. Kevin Conners (Der Laubfrosch), Tara Erraught (Das Kind)

L'Enfant et les sortilèges

Libretto by Colette

 
L’Enfant et les Sortilèges

The Child does not want to work at his lessons, all he wants to do are the things he is not allowed to do. When his mother sees this she punishes him by leaving him alone in his room for the whole of the afternoon with only unsweetened tea and dry bread. She has scarcely left the room when the Child suddenly loses control and wreaks destruction: he smashes the cup and teapot, breaks furniture, slashes the wallpaper, maltreats the pets and kindles the fire in the grate. When he stops, carried away by his anger, he starts to sink into a nightmarish fantasy in which the objects and the animals take on human characteristics.

The Armchair and the Bergère are happy not to provide the naughty Child with a seat any longer. The Comtoise Clock strikes uncontrollably, no longer able to keep to the hour. The black Wedgwood Teapot and the Chinese cup quarrel and attack each other. The Child barely has time to bemoan the loss of his beautiful cup before the Fire spits at him out of the hearth and threatens to burn the him. The Child anxiously looks on as a procession of shepherds and shepherdesses from his torn wallpaper passes by, lamenting the destruction of their peaceful harmony. The Princess rises out of the torn pages of the book of fairy tales and the Child recognizes in her his first love. The Child tries to hold the Princess back as she sinks through the floor and thus save the love between them – but in vain. Instead a Little Old Man and a wild jumble of  Numbers appear and bombard the Child with snatches of mathematical challenges from the arithmetic book.

Completely exhausted, the Child notices the Black Cat, who now embarks on an erotic love duet with the White Cat. As if by a miracle the Child is transported into the garden where various  sounds of Animals and a chorus of Frogs are to be heard. This peaceful mood in natural sourroundings is brought to a sudden end by the lamenting of the Trees, whose bark has been cut by the Child. A Dragonfly is looking for its mate which has, however, been pinned to the wall by the Child. The Squirrel accuses the Child of having held her captive in a cage merely because of her beautiful eyes and warns the Tree Frog that he might suffer a similar fate. The Child senses the love that prevails amongst all the animals around him and, feeling lonely, calls out for his mother. All the animals unite against the naughty Child and goad each other into a battle in which the Squirrel is injured. When the Child lovingly bandages up the Squirrel’s wounds and remains lying motionless on the ground himself, all the animals are touched and unite in calling for his mother.