Bohuslav Martinu: ‘Le Revue de Cuisine’

Bohuslav Martinu’s suite from La Revue de Cuisine is drawn from a ballet, and has a plot:

Twirling Stick is threatening the marriage of Pot and Lid.
Pot is tempted by the overtures of Twirling Stick, and succumbs somewhat.
Dishcloth is interested in Lid, but so is Broom, who challenges Lid to a duel.
Pot tires of Twirling Stick, but Lid is nowhere to be found.
When Lid is kicked back onstage by a big foot, Pot and Lid come together again.
Twirling Stick leaves with Dishcloth.

It’s an odd plot, but tighter than most operas. La Revue de Cuisine is built with a jazz/cabaret idea in mind — the word ‘revue’ in this case refers to something like the Ziegfield follies or a nightclub act, but featuring kitchen utensils. It is not particularly serious.

La Revue de Cuisine comes very evidently of 1920s Paris — the Paris of Diaghilev, Stravinsky, Prokofiev, Josephine Baker, Maurice Chevalier, Hemingway, Fitzgerald, Matisse, Picasso, and Gertrude Stein, to name a few. Martin? arrived in 1923 as a student and stayed there until 1941, when he fled to the United States ahead of the German invasion. In 1953 Martinu returned to Europe, where he lived until 1959.

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