No phantom tenor crooned from opera house rafters. No symphony orchestra performed an Andrew Lloyd Weber score. But there was a lyrical angel perched in a treetop and an Italian quartet of English-singing impersonators. The celestial being and the troubadours may belong to opposite ends of the musical spectrum, but during a pair of pre-Christmas events, they delighted toe-tapping, music-loving locals in Saint-Rémy-de-Provence.
On Friday, 15 December, The Beatbox, a Beatles tribute band, put in a hard day’s night belting out the Liverpool group’s greatest hits for devoted French fans. The English language school, English for French, sponsored the free event at the inviting wine bar, Le Divin, which was packed. Judging by the enthusiastic applause and dreamy-eyed expressions across the audience, the terrific group wowed the crowd with their refined, Beatles-like harmonization and delivery. Before the quartet reminded us of Yesterday, Ralph and I, (non-night owls), called it a night—just before tomorrow.
The next day, with “Michèlle, ma belle …” still swirling in my head, we were treated to another musical event—of the traditional type. It wouldn’t be Noël in Saint-Rémy without the locals-only staging of La Pastorale, a provençal version of the nativity story, written by Yvan Audouard in 1960, with music by Paul Durand. The free double performances (6 PM & 8 PM) took place in centre ville, on Place Favier, which boasts a perfectly positioned plane tree, the outpost for the story-telling angel-narrator. The amateur actors, from tiny tots to pensioners, who lip-synch their lines and melodies, are expertly made up and dressed up—the vibrant costumes are dazzling. It’s an authentic, annual spectacle not to be missed.
Le Bar Divin, all dolled up for Christmas, hosted The Beatox, a terrific Beatles tribute band.
Before The Beatbox made their grand entrance, the all-important sound check.
“George,” aka Guido Cinelli, gives a pre-performance thumb’s up.
The Beatbox in action at Le Bar Divin, in Saint-Rémy-de-Provence.
Another thumb’s up is offered by a delighted French couple who drove over Les Alpilles from Maussane for the concert.
The angel hovering above the manger narrates La Pastorale, a Christmas tradition in Saint-Rémy-de-Provence.
A happy Wise Man flashes a smile as he winds his way through the back streets of Saint-Rémy.
A pair of Wise Men hustle along young Pastorale performers to make their entrance on cue.
Adorable young angels with their delicate cardboard wings hydrate as they wait their turn to join La Pastorale.
Authentically costumed townspeople gather before the manger in the last half of La Pastorale.
From The Beatbox to La Pastoral, Saint-Rémy pays tribute–in fine form–to a wide range of music and tradition. Who knows what entertaining surprises are in store for Noël 2018?