Thursday, 7 June 2012

A Jubilee week special...

From Wikipedia's entry for L'Opera of the Palace of Versailles:

The Opéra Royal since 1950

1952-1957 witnessed major restoration of the Opéra – generally considered one of the finest restoration projects undertaken at Versailles – when it was restored under the direction of André Japy to its 1770 state (Verlet, p. 384). The Opéra officially reopened on 9 April 1957 in the presence of Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom, with a presentation of Act II of Rameau’s Les Indes Galantes.

... and on offer is a copy of the programme from that performance:

'Divertissement offert à l'Opéra de Louis XV par Monsieur le Président de la République en l'honneur de Sa Majesté la Reine Elisabeth II et de Son Altesse Royale le Prince Philip, duc d'Edimbourg : 9 avril 1957'

Many of the 'official programmes' for major royal events are printed in their thousands to be sold up and down the land, and are therefore not hard to get hold of, even 60 years later. Just take a look at the number of copies of the official 1953 Coronation programme up for sale on eBay this week... This however is evidently a rather rare item, as I'm pretty certain it's the programme handed to the opera-goers at the event, and as such would have had a much lower print run.

This could appeal to a number of separate groups of enthusiasts: collectors of British Royal ephemera looking for something out of the ordinary in this Jubilee week, opera buffs, Palace of Versailles fans, or even collectors of work by Albert Decaris, as the cover of the programme is a striking original intaglio engraving by that acclaimed artist (who was a favourite of Charles de Gaulle). Here's a detail:

Other than a listing for a copy in the Bibliothèque interuniversitaire Sainte-Geneviève the only other reference I can find to this programme is on this thread (in French).
I can't find another copy for sale anywhere online.

The programme is 32 x 24cm, 8pp, plus covers. This copy is complete with the three-colour cord around the spine, and is printed on heavy paper with the Decaris etching on the front cover, and three tipped in illustrations, one in colour. It has a little bit of foxing throughout, but is in good condition for an item over 50 years old. 

I'm fascinated to see if this has any takers, and if it does, which group of fans the buyer comes from.

Her Maj obviously had a busy few days in France back in 1957, as this Pathé news reel reveals. There was even a Seine pageant!

For completeness' sake, as it's only an 8 page programme, here's the interiors:

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