Selected Shorts: French Fictions

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We might call this program, “Contes Choisis,” the French for “Selected Shorts,” since it presents selections from a PASSPORT TO PARIS evening at Symphony Space, our series’ theatrical home, and one surreal classic from an earlier show hosted by former Metropolitan Museum director Philippe de Montebello.

And what better way to open a program of French-themed short stories than with one of the more than 300 published short fictions by Guy de Maupassant (1850 to 1893), one of the acknowledged masters of the form?  His “A Parisian Affair,” depicts the adventures of a bored provincial housewife seeking the Paris of her fantasies.  It was translated by Sian Miles and read by stage and screen star Rene Auberjonois, who, though born in New York City, is related to Napoleon Bonaparte.

From the sophisticated salons and boudoirs of de Maupassant’s Paris, our second story takes us to the public housing projects of the Paris suburb of Pantin, and to a work by Faiza Guene, a child of Algerian immigrants who grew up there. What you will hear is an excerpt from her first novel, Kiffe Kiffe Tomorrow, published in 2005 when she was only 19 years old.  She has since written Dreams from the Endz, and Some Dream for Fools.  The excerpt is read by long-time SHORTS player Sonia Manzano, who has for many years voiced the character of Maria on Sesame Street and is a published children’s book author in her own right.

We complete this French fiction hour with rare and strange 1878 piece about the phantom transmission of a musical secret across the generations, “The Secret of the Old Music,” by the French aristocrat Auguste Villiers de l’Isle Adam, vibrantly read by Philippe de Montebello, who selected it.

The musical interlude is from Tom Wait’s  “Just Another Sucker on the Vine,” and the SELECTED SHORTS theme is Roger Kellaway’s “Come to the Meadow.”

For additional works featured on SELECTED SHORTS, please visit

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