Friday night saw a sold-out crowd attend a concert that will live long in the memory - a double bill consisting of Joseph Havlat's creative reimaging of Poulenc's Les Animaux modèles alongside a magnificent performance of Saint-Saëns' The Carnival of the Animals. Both wonderfully narrated by Classic FM presenter Zeb Soanes.

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ROSL ARTS' Season Spectacular began with the full production debut of Joseph Havlat's cross-collaboration project of Francis Poulenc's Les Animaux modèles, incorporating narration by Zeb Soanes and six commissioned stage artworks alongside solo piano. 

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Joseph Havlat’s interest in Les Animaux modèles came from his familiarity performing Poulenc’s best-known work for piano and narrator, L'Histoire de Babar, le petit éléphant (1940-45). “Allegedly, he improvised the music when on holiday with his cousins, their children demanding that he play the story book on the piano. The music, therefore, has a natural pictorial quality to it, in lieu of illustrations”, Joseph comments, “It got me thinking that a similar approach could be made to many ballet scores that exist in solo-piano form.”

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Consulting the original fable text and the directions already in the score, he set about commissioning a translation adaptation by David Schofield to be read alongside the music in a similar style to Babar. But he wasn’t finished with just a new narration in his ambitions – aware that the visual aspect to the performance is still lost when compared to a traditional ballet production of the work, Joseph suggested that it would be fun to collaborate with various contemporary artists interpreting the scenes, working with ROSL ARTS Curator Robin Footitt to select a supporting cast whose art practice had a curious relationship to storytelling.

The full details of the concert and images of the artworks can be viewed here.


During the second half of the concert, Camille Saint-Saëns’ The Carnival of the Animals, to introduce each animal, Zeb Soanes as narrator read English poet Roger McGough's entertaining verses, specially written to accompany the music.

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Images courtesy of Piranha Photography



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