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Category Archives: Jean Cocteau

According to Wikipedia: “Le Jeune Homme et La Mort” is a ballet by Roland Petit, choreographed in 1946 to Bach’s Passacaglia in C Minor, BWV 582 (omitting the fugue), with a one-act libretto by Jean Cocteau. Sets were by Georges Wakhévitch and costumes variously reported as being by Karinska or Cocteau.

The libretto has similarities wth Jean Cocteau’s “Orpheus/Orphee” film.

To my mind, Uliana Lopatkina is one of the best performers of this iconic role. She shows cold wickedness and inner passion of Cocteau’s Death. Vicious. Perfect. Maria Casares would definitely enjoy.


María Casares as The Princess and 
Marie Déa as Eurydice

Image courtesy of The Criterion Collection

Maria Casares at the premier of Jean Cocteau film Orphee (1950).

Private collection.

Someday I will write some of my own thoughts, but today I post this article.

While he is perhaps more widely known for his lovely 1946 adaptation Beauty
and the Beast
, Jean Cocteau’s finest achievement is arguably Orpheus,
a 1950 update on the Greek myth of the same name.

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Jean Cocteau‘s monologues provide the inspiration behind opera and dance from Royal Opera House in London. Choreographer Aletta Collins and director Tom Cairns began to explore the inspirational synergy of music, dance and voice along with Cocteau’s themes of possession and abandonment in their dance film for Channel 4, ‘The Human Voice’. Now this programme became the live performance. In Duet for One Voice, a world-premiere, Collins re-imagines Cocteau’s monologue Duet for One Voice for dancers, with a newly composed score by composer Scott Walker. For the second, a new production sung in English, Tom Cairns stages Poulenc’s opera La Voix humaine (The Human Voice), which follows a woman’s desperate last telephone conversation with her departed lover.

“I must admit to not really being an admirer of Cocteau,” says Scott Walker in a press release. “I am, however, an admirer of Aletta Collins and her work. So when Aletta asked me to collaborate with the intention of deconstructing the original script for dance, I was grateful for the challenge to help take what is essentially, in my humble opinion, an antiquated piece of misogyny (in this case, woman as willing victim) and try to turn it on its head and use its traces to create something new.”

Cocteau Voices


17 June 2011 to 25 June 2011
Linbury Studio Theatre

Running time: 1 hour 45 minutes | 1 Interval


Marnie Breckenridge – An Interview with “La Princesse” of Philip Glass’ Orphée

By Seán Martinfield

Ensemble Parallèle presents Philip Glass’ Orphée February 26th and 27th at the Herbst Theater in San Francisco. The work is a direct adaptation of Jean Cocteau’s iconic 1950 film and screenplay, Orphée. The film is a re-telling of the classic tale of Orpheus and Eurydice. The script is opulent in language, its look and use of special effects is stunningly simple yet provocative. The character of “Orpheus” is portrayed by Jean Marais, the romantic hero of Cocteau’s 1946 masterpiece, La Belle et La Bête. Beside him as “Eurydice” is Marie Déa and in-between them is the figure of Death – “La Princesse” – played by enigmatic beauty, Maria Casarès. The themes are strong. What is love? What is death? What is the point of living? Jean Cocteau’s Orphée is cinematic poetry. It was inevitable that it should be transformed into an opera.

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A man who dozes, his mouth half open, in front of a wood fire, lets slip some secrets from that night of the human body that is called the soul, over which he is no longer master.
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When I make a film, it is a sleep in which I am dreaming. Only the people and places of the dream matter. I have difficulty making contact with others, as one does when half-asleep. If a person is asleep and someone else comes into the sleeper’s room, this other person does not exist. He or she exists only if introduced into the events of the dream. Sunday is not a real day of rest for me, I try to go back to sleep as quickly as possible.
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Maria Casares performed in two very prominent Jean Cocteau’s films, “Orpheus” and “Testament of Orpheus”, in which she played Death (the Princess).

So I post two essays of Jean Cocteau about these films.

There are two photos from “Orphee” set.