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La Comedie Francaise A Orange
by [?]

Idling up through the south of France, in company with a passionate lover of that fair land, we learned on arriving at Lyons, that the actors of the Comédie Fran�aise were to pass through there the next day, en route for Orange, where a series of fêtes had been arranged by “Les Félibres.” This society, composed of the writers and poets of Provence, have the preservation of the Roman theatre at Orange (perhaps the most perfect specimen of classical theatrical architecture in existence) profoundly at heart, their hope being to restore some of its pristine beauty to the ruin, and give from time to time performances of the Greek masterpieces on its disused stage.

The money obtained by these representations will be spent in the restoration of the theatre, and it is expected in time to make Orange the centre of classic drama, as Beyreuth is that of Wagnerian music.

At Lyons, the cortège was to leave the Paris train and take boats down the Rhône, to their destination. Their programme was so tempting that the offer of places in one of the craft was enough to lure us away from our prearranged route.

By eight o’clock the following morning, we were on foot, as was apparently the entire city. A cannon fired from Fort Lamothe gave the signal of our start. The river, covered with a thousand gayly decorated craft, glinted and glittered in the morning light. It world be difficult to forget that scene,-the banks of the Rhône were lined with the rural population, who had come miles in every direction to acclaim the passage of their poets.

Everywhere along our route the houses were gayly decorated and arches of flowers had been erected. We float past Vienne, a city once governed by Pontius Pilate, and Tournon, with its feudal ch�teau, blue in the distance, then Saint Peray, on a verdant vine-clad slope. As we pass under the bridge at Montélimar, an avalanche of flowers descends on us from above.

The rapid current of the river soon brings our flotilla opposite Vivier, whose Gothic cathedral bathes its feet in the Rhône. Saint Esprit and its antique bridge appear next on the horizon. Tradition asserts that the Holy Spirit, disguised as a stone mason, directed its construction; there were thirteen workmen each day, but at sunset, when the men gathered to be paid, but twelve could be counted.

Here the mayor and the municipal council were to have received us and delivered an address, but were not on hand. We could see the tardy cortège hastening towards the bridge as we shot away down stream.

On nearing Orange, the banks and quays of the river are alive with people. The high road, parallel with the stream, is alive with a many-colored throng. On all sides one hears the language of Mistral, and recognizes the music of Mireille sung by these pilgrims to an artistic Mecca, where a miracle is to be performed-and classic art called forth from its winding-sheet.

The population of a whole region is astir under the ardent Proven�al sun, to witness a resurrection of the Drama in the historic valley of the Rhône, through whose channel the civilization and art and culture of the old world floated up into Europe to the ceaseless cry of the cigales.

Ch�teaurenard! our water journey is ended. Through the leafy avenues that lead to Orange, we see the arch of Marius and the gigantic proscenium of the theatre, rising above the roofs of the little city.

So few of our compatriots linger in the south of France after the spring has set in, or wander in the by-ways of that inexhaustible country, that a word about the representations at Orange may be of interest, and perchance create a desire to see the masterpieces of classic drama (the common inheritance of all civilized races) revived with us, and our stage put to its legitimate use, cultivating and elevating the taste of the people.