The French Connection

Maybe it’s because we know a guy who made the connection to King Henry VIII — he beheaded the best friend of the great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great grandmother of a woman who used to play trivia with a cousin’s college roommate * — but we’ve got the Kevin Bacon game on the brain, and there’s no better time than now to play.

Here’s why: tonight and Saturday, Ludovic Morlot returns to conduct a very French program. How French is French? We’re talking layers and layers of Frenchness, people.

Let’s play. Connect impressionist composer Claude Debussy and post-impressionist artist Paul Gauguin. Go.

Both lived in France?

Eh. Too easy. Come on, you can do better than that.

What about this: The Symphony is performing Debussy’s Prélude à laprès-midi d’un faune (“Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun”) tonight and Saturday. The featured exhibition of the Seattle Art Museum (the Symphony’s next-door neighbor) is “Gauguin and Polynesia: An Elusive Paradise,” and it runs through April 29.

Claude Debussy

Exciting! (But still too easy — just a warm-up.)

Fine — let’s try again: Debussy’s Prélude was inspired by Stephane Mallarmé’s poem, “Laprès-midi d’un faune.Mallarmé, a notable symbolist poet and critic, championed both Debussy and Gauguin.

Stephane Mallarmé

Nice. It’s—

We’re not finished! The coup de grâce: Paul Gauguin’s guardian during his high school years was Gustave Arosa, who was the brother of Achille-Antoine Arosa, who along with his mistress served as a godparent to … Debussy!

Good form. You win!

Brush off your best beret and join us, tonight and/or Saturday, in celebrating the music of Debussy, Henri Dutilleux, Bohuslav Martinů (he was born in Bohemia, but spent several years in Paris) and Maurice Ravel, conducted by our very own (and French!) Ludovic Morlot. Get your tickets here!

*Note: Not that it has anything to do with France, but the bit about Hank the 8 is not true. Well, it might be, given his common manner of coping with infertility.