On 22 September 2017, Matilda Marseillaise was born. In the 12 months since her birth, she has taken you across Australia in research of all things French and francophone.
So in this article, we look back over her first year.
At the festival
Matilda Marseillaise has told you which shows you must see at arts festivals in all parts of Australia. She has written about MOFO in Tasmania, the festivals of WOMADelaide, Adelaide Festival and the Adelaide Fringe Festival, Sydney Fringe Festival and Melbourne Fringe Festival.
Matilda has also spoken to you about French festivals happening around the country like the Sunshine Coast French Festival, the Bastille Festival Sydney, the Bastille Festival Melbourne, Le Festival in Brisbane, Bonjour Barossa, the Adelaide French Festival and Shark Bay Rendezvous and So Frenchy So Chic – the festival which celebrates la joie de vivre française.
Linked to these festivals, Matilda Marseillaise has brought you interviews with musicians, a puppeteer, and theatre directors, among others. She has spoken with people both well-known as well as those not as well-known but equally interesting. She has interviewed francophones from across a diverse range of domains such as Paul Perrin from the Musée d’Orsay in Paris, Kiya Tabassian, founder and director of the ensemble, Constantinople, Dimitar Gugov from the group Violons Barbares from Canada, Melanie Walters who played “La Flute de Pan” at Adelaide Fringe Festival, the Canadian comedian Al LaFrance who spoke about his show “I think I’m Dead” and Ronnie Burkett, Canadian puppeteer about his show “The Daisy Theatre” which played at Sydney Festival.
There were also an interviews about perfume with Samantha from The Powder Room who led Masterclasses on the subject at the Adelaide French Festival; the singer Abby Dobson from the group Baby et Lulu; Frédérique Cournoyer Lessard, the French aerial circus artist from Club Swizzle; Féfé who played at So Frenchy So Chic 2018. Matilda has also spoken with the principal ballerina from Ballet Preljocacj, a French ballet company, who was in Australia for their version of Snow White which played in Melbourne and in Sydney.
Eating and drinking
There have also been festivals all about food and drink offerings: Effervescence champagne festival , Moët Grand Day also on the subject; Masterclasses and other events from the Tasting Australia program and Good France, the worldwide French dinner.
At the movies
On a cultural note, she has spoken to you about French and francophone films at the Sydney Film Festival and at the Alliance Française French Film Festival. She has spoken to you about an Australian film about life in France “Life is a very strange thing”, and about a film starring Omar Sy: Two is a Family. She had the pleasure of sharing her experiences of watching the film “Les Triplettes de Belleville” with the sounds reproduced live with Benoît Charest and his Terrible Orchestre de Belleville.
There was a lot more than film soundtrack to entertain our ears over the last 12 months. Matilda was lucky enough to interview the renowned Youssou N’Dour, who came to Australia for a concert at the Sydney Opera House and also for BluesFest. She has listened to and spoken with Australian artists who play French or French inspired music: Mélange à Trois, Baby et Lulu, and the very original Coconut Kids who translated Australian classic pub songs into French for their Adelaide Fringe show “Aussie, Aussie, Aussie, Oui, Oui, Oui”. Well-known Australian singer Gotye presented a tribute to the Belgian Jean-Jacques Perrey at Sydney Festival. Caroline Nin took us on a trip to the Paris Lido with her show “Songs and Stories of the Paris Lido” that she performed at the Adelaide French Festival.
Francophone musicians from all around the world came for WOMADelaide, with Constantinople, the Violons Barbares and Lura among them. Malian musicians Bassekou Kouyaté & Ngoni Ba, played to a very enthusiastic crowd at the Sydney Festival.
Matilda got to speak with French rapper Féfé while he was in Australia performing “showcases” to publicise So Frenchy So Chic 2018.
Matilda was lucky enough to see Ballet Preljocacj’s production of “Snow White”, which played at the Sydney Opera House and in Melbourne. For a ballet with an even larger difference, crowds were treated to Gratte Ciel’s aerial ballet “Place des Anges” which covered WOMADelaide in tons of white feathers.
Let’s run away to the circus
Place des Anges, was a show of quasi ballet, quasi circus which leads nicely into other physical performances such as “Club Swizzle” and the Cirque de Soleil’s arena spectacular “Toruk – The First Flight” inspired by James Cameron’s film “Avatar”. Matilda got to speak with francophone performers from these shows.
A night at the theatre
There was also theatre with Camus’ Caligula performed in English, “The Great War” a Dutch show based on letters from a French soldier in the trenches during the war. The show “The Far Side of the Moon” impressed us with its innovative set and Yves Jacques’ talent performing alone on stage during the entire show. We learned about the story of the very interesting Julie d’Aubigny, in the show “Deviant Women – Julie d’Aubigny”. And we got to see a puppet show that was most definitely not for children with the show “The Daisy Theatre” by Canadian Ronnie Burkett at the Sydney Festival.
Schnitzel from “The Daisy Theatre” ready for bed. Image by Prudence Upton
Just for laughs!
We laughed at French-speaking or faux French comedians such as Al La France with his show “I think I’m Dead”, Marcel Lucont, and the show Cyranose, from which we spoke to Richard Maritzer, all of which performed at the Adelaide Fringe.
There weren’t just performing arts either. Impressionist art was prominent in exhibitions in Australia. There was the very well received “Colours of Impressionism: Masterpieces from the Musée d’Orsay” which was in Adelaide for 4 months and we got to speak with Paul Perrin, one of the exhibition curators from the Musée d’Orsay the day before the exhibition opened. Currently on in Sydney, another French impressionist art exhibition is on but this time, the paintings are those of an Australian who studied and lived in France: “John Russell: Australia’s French Impressionist”.
We also got to speak with Camille Chaumette and Agnès Mabille, exhibition curators while they were in Australia for the small exhibition of paintings by French photographer Michael Setboun. The photos comprised his “Paris Dark Light” exhibition and stayed in Adelaide for the weekend of the Adelaide French Festival in January.
Another important exhibition of French works was that of Cartier: The Exhibition, which was on at the National Gallery of Australia in Canberra for a few months. Cartier Jewels dazzled the crowds.
Matilda Marseillaise helped you celebrate the special days such as La Chandeleur and La Galette des Rois as well as the French, Belgian and Swiss National Holidays (sorry Québécois – I will include yours next year!) She also shared ideas for Mother’s Day, Father’s Day and Valentine’s Day.
Let’s drink champagne
And because no celebration is complete without champagne, Matilda let you know about all the events on the subject. She spoke to you about Champagne Fest at the National Wine Centre and of her experiences at its masterclasses. Matilda told you how and where to celebrate the Grand Moët Day in Sydney and Melbourne. She invited you to diners with a champagne focus such as the Mumm and Perrier-Jouet dinner or festivals which celebrate champagne like Effervescence which was on last month.
And if we have champagne, then we also have wine, and events or even just places dedicated to it. Matilda spoke to you about the event comparing New and Old World wines, a night celebrating rosé called 15 Shades of Rosé and Rosé Royale, a bar dedicated to rose-tinted wine which opened in Sydney last year – and she spoke to its founder. More recently, Matilda encouraged you to try the new French cocktail inspired range from Australian brand Sofi Spritz.
The World Cup
And Matilda told you where to catch all of the French or Belgian World Cup Matches – even if they were played in the middle of the night Australian time. And of course, we all know that France won, which gave us yet another reason to celebrate!
La cuisine française
French cuisine has also had its moment. Matilda has spoken to you about Good France – the worldwide French dinner and about French restaurants awarded among the top 500 Australian restaurants according to the Australian Financial Review.
What have been your favourite moments over the last year? What subjects would you be interested in reading about over the next year?