Beauty and the Beast


La belle et la bête (Beauty and the Beast) is a film-opera created in 1994: the first one (film) is represented by the film under the same title by versatile French artist Jean Cocteau which was created in 1946 (its renewed version), the second (opera) – by the music created by American minimalist composer Philip Glass in 1994. So the opera here is visually presented as a film accompanied by the orchestral music and the characters are voiced by the opera soloists. This film-opera is a unique synchronisation of live sound and screen view, which is relevant for performing the music by Philip Glass with Jean Cocteau’s film at the same time: the performance of music has to be especially precise in order to match the images displayed on the screen. La belle et la bête is a second part from the opera trilogy by Philip Glass, which was created in accordance with the films by Jean Cocteau; the other two operas are Orphée (1993) and Les Enfants Terribles (1996).

The plot of this film-opera tells about Beauty’s father who is doomed to die for picking a rose from the Beast’s garden. Beauty hopes to soften the Beast’s heart and possibly to save her father, so she decides to go to the Beast’s castle. As soon as the Beast sees Beauty, he falls in love and proposes to her, although later he decides to test the beloved. He allows Beauty to visit her family warning that if she would not come back after week, he just die from the grief.

Famous American composer Philip Glass, after studying with Darius Milhaud and Nadia Boulanger in Paris, has created French sounding music for a French film Beauty and the Beast. The musical atmosphere of the film-opera often reminds such famous operas as Pelléas et Mélisande (1902) by Claude Debussy and L’enfant et les sortilèges (1925) by Maurice Ravel.

In order to heighten the dramatic moments in Jean Cocteau’s film, Philip Glass used the variety of instrumental and vocal media in contrast to his minimalistic works. In the few episodes of the film-opera, the fragments from the original soundtrack from film by George Aurico are included. Beauty and the Beast is one of the all-times best films of romantic fantasy genre. The opera was rated with five stars on Vivid imagination, ornate costumes, unique scenography and perfect Josette Day and Jean Marais’s acting fascinates not only the little audience, but also the lovers of non-commercial cinema and opera in the whole world.