L'enfant et les Sortilèges

 Ravel’s L’enfant et les Sortilèges is a fantastical story where a naughty child (L’Enfant) is punished for his bad behavior when the items in his room come to life to take their revenge. The armchairs (La Bergère and Le Fauteuil) dance together to escape the child, and the take the bench (Le Banc), couch (Le Canapé), stool (Le Pouf), and the wicker chair (La Chaise de Paille) with them. The Grandfather Clock (L’Horologe Comtoise) starts toppling around the room after the child, upset at being made to strike out of time, and the Wedgwood Teapot (La Théière) boxes and dances with the Chinese teacup (La Tasse Chinoise). The fire (Le Feu) jumps out of the grate, the torn shepherds from the wallpaper (Les Pastoures and Les Pâtres) rise from the floor and dance a ballet, and the Princess (La Princesse) from the book the child destroyed appears then leaves him, forever. Even his math book becomes a little old man (Le Petit Vieillard) and the numbers (Les Chiffres) jump about the room, all in the wrong order. 

Following the cats outside, the child seeks refuge in the garden, but here the trees (Les Arbres) have come alive, and he is plagued by all the animals he has hurt or captured, and the partners of the animals he has killed. The squirrel (L’Ecureuil) he has kept in a cage warns the tree frog (La Rainette) to stay away in case he might be captured, and asks the child to set him free. The animals and trees finally gang together and attack the child, but when the squirrel is hurt and screams out everything stops. The child bandages the squirrel’s paw and the animals are shocked at his kindness. The child cries out one word ‘Maman’ and the animals echo it until Maman appears at the door, and the child goes back into the house.

Beauty and The Beast

A merchant has three daughters, the youngest named Beauty. He was once a rich merchant but has fallen on hard times. His two older daughters are bitter about their misfortune, but young Beauty is a dreamer and dreams of love and better days. The merchant receives word that “his ship has come in” and tells his daughters they are rich again. The two eldest ask him to ride to the city to buy them expensive dresses and jewels, but when he asks Beauty what she would like, she asks for a single rose, for she has dreamt that a rose will lead her to her true love.

The merchant heads for the city, but a terrible storm waylays him. He sees a castle, and there is a gardener in the yard. He asks the gardener who lives in the castle and the gardener says that a lonely man with a terrible face lives there- a face so terrible they call him The Beast. The merchant sees that there are beautiful roses in the garden and asks if he can pick one for his daughter. “Yes”, says the gardener, “but hurry for my master is coming”. The merchant picks a rose but is confronted by The Beast. The merchant explains he just wanted a rose for his daughter, Beauty. The Beast is furious and turns his gardener to stone and tells the merchant that he must return with Beauty so she can be his bride. The merchant refuses and The Beast says that if he kills the merchant his other daughters will suffer. The merchant runs off to fetch Beauty.

He returns with her but says he would rather die than let her marry The Beast, but she says she could never live knowing he died for her. She says she is not afraid and goes to the castle door alone.

When she knocks, she hears the servants scurrying to let her in and with a command from The Beast, the door opens. She meets him at the threshold, and he falls instantly in love with her. He tells her that she will not be his slave, but his master! That she will have servants to take care of her and the beautiful castle and grounds to live in if she will be his bride. Beauty sees his kind heart but cannot marry him. He tells her he will wait for her, and that maybe one day she will love him, and not be so fearful in her eyes. He wishes her goodnight and enchanted sleep.

Beauty returns home because she had a dream her father was grieving for her. When she tells The Beast this, he gives her a magic ring to return her home. Her father is so happy, and she stays the night. The merchant hears Beauty crying in her sleep and wakes her. Beauty says that she sees The Beast crying and dying by the river by the castle…dying of a broken heart. The merchant tells Beauty that The Beast does not love her, he covets her for her beauty. But she knows he is kind and gave her the ring to return to her family and needs to return to save him.

Beauty uses her rose and magically finds The Beast in the garden by the river. He thanks her for returning and tells her that he loves her. She declares her love for him, because of his kindness. He tells her that it makes him happy to know he is loved, but he is dying. He gives the castle and all the grounds to her, but he knows that the roses have not grown since he turned the gardener to stone. He tells Beauty that the roses will grow again, as a symbol of his undying love if she will go and touch the statue with her magic ring. When she does the gardener comes to life. The gardener goes to thank The Beast, but cannot see him by the river….he sees a young man instead. The young man is The Beast transformed, now handsome. He tells Beauty that he was cursed to look like a beast, until someone truly loved him. And now, they can live happily ever after.

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