Les Jours is a ballet in seven episodes, the title and character of each episode originating in the mythological attributes ascribed to those gods whose names have become associated with the days of the week.
Thus, the Sun (Sunday/Dimanche) movement comes from the story of Genesis, the birth of man through the agency of a Universal Power, and the Moon (Monday/Lundi) portrays the youth of man, while Mars (Tuesday/ Mardi) reveals man’s passion to wage war, to commit acts of violence.
Mercury (Wednesday/Mercredi) presents a view of man’s achievements in culture and of refinement, whereas Jupiter (Thursday/Jeudi) predicts a New Deluge, and the Venus (Friday/Vendredi) reflects upon the aftermath, on a New Spring where a real brotherhood exists. Saturn (Saturday/Samedi) focuses on the pluralistic (and one might say the contemporaneous) aspects of man, depicting three of his most pervasive traits: some men believe themselves to be content and remain so, while other men evolve into reckless and uncontrollable beings, and other simply become anxious and depressed. Will man be held accountable again by the claims of the Universal? Will the cycle renew itself?
Les Jours won the second of two prizes during the Concours international de musique de ballet at Geneva in 1969. It was given its premiere in Toronto, July 1974 on a program with Ravel’s overture to the incomplete opera, Sheherazade (1888), and Schoenberg’s orchestration of Bach’s Prelude and Fugue in E-flat.
The synopsis (argument)
Sunday — In an arid, terrifying place, an indistinguishable number of formless beings lie supine. The atmosphere is rarefied. Gradually, a ray of light, a spatial form of nebular quality overlooks the scene. Some strange energy is released, and the amorphous creatures begin to move. They rise. Staggering one by one, they appear to walk with heads uplifted, and only in this position may they continue to advance.
Monday — Fatigue and weakness becomes apparent and many heads begin to droop. They fall. But in this new posture, from this different point of view, the creatures see each other for the first time. All traces of weariness vanish as they start to amuse themselves. Not only do they play vigorously, but in the end, unjustly as well.
Tuesday — A fight of vicious proportions follows in which all but two of the combatants die. Realizing their crime, they hurry away.
Wednesday — Under a clear, open sky, many spectators marvel at the enigmatic structure before them. Is it a golden column, an ornate pillar, or a soaring tower? The owners of the edifice vaguely resemble the pair of victorious warriors. Slowly the afternoon’s brilliance changes to evening clouds.
Thursday — A storm approaches, and the rain becomes a torrent; a vast flood ensues. Virtually all perish.
Friday — With the end of the tempest, a new dawn emerges and a New Spring begins, full of propitious tidings.
Saturday — Certain activities appear to be in progress. The country people enjoy a common rustic feast. In another sphere, simultaneously, some celebrate the end of the deluge in orgiastic revelry. While still in another domain, the inhabitants are capable on neither sentiment: they brood, they worry. This sterile individualism is finally terminated by a thunderclap that terrifies and reawakens all present to the claims of the supernatural. Will the cycle commence once again?
- Score available at CMC, Région du Québec (bureau à Montréal).
- Recording: available at SMCQ’s office