The adventures of Maestro Puss In Boots


The adventures of Maestro Puss In Boots

How does a dusty old farm cat turn a poor miller into the Marquis de Carabas? The instinct for survival, the choice of words, the power of charm, all of it heightened by the spellbinding and sublime music of a symphony orchestra… plus a few fascinating fibs: these are the tricks that our charming and crafty Puss in Boots will use to hoist his master to the highest levels of society. And with a singing Ogre, a dancing King and a poet Princess, all the ingredients are there to delight your senses!




Les Manigances de Maestro Chat botté, une histoire revisitée et mise en musique !

You probably already know loads of stories! But did you know that both true stories and imaginary adventures can also be set to music? These are known as “musical tales.” Told by either a narrator or actors, a musical tale allows ample room for music, which can represent a character, a place or an action and lets us experience a whole range of emotions!

There are countless musical tales! Perhaps the most famous of them is Peter and the Wolf (1936), by Russian composer Sergei Prokofiev. Maurice Ravel also wrote several short pieces inspired by stories, including Sleeping Beauty, Hop-o’-My-Thumb, Beauty and the Beast, which made up the movements of Mother Goose (1911).


Following the death of his father, a Young Miller is kicked out of his home, penniless, famished, and with just this one bequest: a paunchy old cat. Immediately he thinks he’ll eat it to stay alive. But this is no ordinary cat – it talks! And by dint of eloquence and skullduggery, he convinces our Young Miller that he can make him rich. “You’ll be the Marquis of Carabas!” And so the miller gets him what he asks for: a hat, a bag…and boots. Puss-in-Boots has to hurry, because the miller will run out of patience at sundown.



Not really understanding, the Young Miller, with two rabbits under his arm, follows Puss-in-Boots to the neighborhood castle: they bump into the King and Princess taking their daily stroll. And all it needs is a few smartly turned phrases from the cat for the King to be captivated by the alleged Marquis of Carabas. This new neighbor, it seems, has replaced the Ogre in the castle next door. But the Princess remains unconvinced.



The King and his daughter carry on with their walk. Puss-in-Boots asks the miller to undress and pretend he’s drowning. When the King sees what’s happening, he rises to the bait. The King goes so far as to lend his finest suit of clothes to the Marquis de Carabas, who by way of thanks invites him to dinner.



Time is of the essence; the miller must now convince the area residents that the surrounding lands and fields belong to none other than the great Marquis of Carabas.



While this is going on, at the castle of the neighboring Ogre, Puss-in-Boots attempts the impossible: he seeks to persuade this dreadful figure to make way for him…and turn over his castle!



The miller is worried to see the King and the Princess show up so quickly, he not being ready to welcome them to the Ogre’s castle. But our Puss-in-Boots has pulled it off: The Ogre is defeated. Long live the Marquis of Carabas! The Princess immediately falls in love with him, and the King happily grants him his daughter’s hand in marriage.


A king, a marquis, a princess, what is the nobility ?

In the past, those who were part of the nobility received a title (“marquis,” “duke,” “baron,” etc.), which was granted to them by the King. The title was then passed down from one generation to the next. This privileged and extremely hierarchical social class had to govern themselves according to certain rules such as attachment to the King and the kingdom, respect for religion and traditions, and suitable behaviour in society.

Did you know?

At the time of the story of Puss In Boots, only riders and hunters wore boots; peasants’ footwear consisted of simple clogs. So boots were a sign of power, and that’s why the cunning cat in our story became Puss In Boots!



Didier Lucien: Puss in Boots

Certainly not your average cat! He has a way with words that amounts to purrfect flattery. To prevent his poor master from eating him, he promises to make him rich one day. His strategy? Get to meet the king and princess and introduce them to the Marquis of Carabas (the miller), convince the farmers that their land belongs to the marquis, and conquer the ogre who’s terrorizing everybody in the vicinity!

Marc St-Martin: The Young Miller

Kicked out by his brothers after the death of their father, the young miller is famished and, to make matters worse, the only thing he’s inherited is a cat he believes to be not very bright. Has he ever got it wrong! Puss in Boots isn’t your average cat, since he’s capable of making him rich on condition the miller listens to him very carefully and does everything he says. Accompanied by his cat, the young miller, disguised as a marquis, sets off on a journey that ends with him meeting a princess—and he immediately falls under her charms. Will Puss in Boots keep his promise to make the young miller rich? And will he have the courage to ask for the lovely princess in marriage?

Antoine Vézina: The King

Above everything else in the world the king loves his daughter, but he doesn’t seem to realize that his princess isn’t a kid anymore. As a dad he’s a little thick, but good for a laugh! One day, on their daily stroll, they meet Puss in Boots, who sings the praises of the Marquis of Carabas. The king doesn’t even notice that he’s talking to a cat, and before long, he’s fallen under its spell!

Lili Robitaille: The Princess

The princess doesn’t completely believe Puss in Boots’s story and doubts that the Marquis of Carabas really exists. A talking cat, give me a break! Above all she wants her father to be careful. But when she meets the young miller—called “Marquis of Carabas”—she finds him very much to her taste and falls in love with him. Nevertheless, she wants proof that the chateau he claims own actually belongs to him and not the ogre, its occupant to that point.

Geoffroy Salvas: The Ogre

The ogre lives in the chateau coveted by Puss in Boots and the young miller. And although he doesn’t eat cat, he still likes to make rugs out of them! He also has the power to transport himself wherever he wants and turn into anything he pleases. Can you guess what Puss in Boots asks him to turn into?



FELIX MENDELSSOHN (1809-1847), Germany

Symphony no. 4 in A major, op. 90, “Italian”: “Allegro vivace”

A young pianist and prodigy composer (he completed the score of his first opera when he was 12!), Mendelssohn wrote his Italian Symphony in 1833 after a trip to Italy. Played first by the violins, then taken up by the woodwinds and the rest of the orchestra, the effervescent and acrobatic theme of the Allegro vivace is contagiously cheerful!

IGOR STRAVINSKY (1882-1971), Russia

Suite no. 2 for Small Orchestra: “Galop”

Stravinsky is regarded as one of the greatest composers of the 20th century. His large body of work includes a wide variety of styles. The movement called “Galop” was originally part of Five Easy Pieces for the piano that Stravinsky wrote for his children in 1917. After receiving a commission from a Parisian music hall, he integrated it into his Suite no. 2 for Small Orchestra in 1925.

BÉLA BARTÓK (1881-1945), Hungary

Romanian Folk Dances, BB 76: “Brâul” (Sash Dance)

A few 20th century composers drew inspiration from the traditional music of their countries. Among them is Béla Bartók, who integrated elements of Eastern European folklore into his works. His Romanian Folk Dances (1917) are based on popular folk tunes with infectious rhythms and ornate melodies.

Modest Mussorgsky (1839-1881), Russia

Pictures at an Exhibition: “The Market at Limoges”

Pictures at an Exhibition: “The Ballet of Unhatched Chicks in Their Shells”

A member of The Five, a group of Russian composers who were intent on creating a Russian musical identity, Mussorgsky is best known for his Pictures at an Exhibition, a work that was originally written for piano in 1874, then orchestrated by Maurice Ravel in 1922. True musical depiction of paintings in a gallery, each of Mussorgsky’s tableaux evokes a scene or a character.

OTTORINO RESPIGHI (1879-1939), Italy

La boutique fantasque: “Tarantella”

Often regarded as the father of the revival of Italian symphonic music at the turn of the 20th century, Respighi is best known for his three great symphonic poems that pay tribute to the city of Rome. Composed in 1919, La Boutique fantasque, also known as The Magic Toyshop, is a ballet that centres on the love story between two mechanical dolls. Some of the ballet’s pieces are orchestrations of Rossini’s works, including the spirited Tarentella.


Te Deum: “Prélude”

A composer of the Baroque period renowned for his religious works, Marc-Antoine Charpentier lived under the reign of King Louis XIV. His Te Deum, a grand motet penned between 1688 and 1698, is written for choir, soloists and orchestra. The very solemn “Prelude,” composed in the form of a rondo and the main theme recurring several times throughout the piece, is, however, only instrumental.

SERGEI PROKOFIEV (1891-1953), Russia

Cinderella, Act II: “Midnight”

In addition to being a composer, the highly gifted Prokofiev was an excellent pianist and a headstrong child prodigy. His style reflects his vast creative spirit. Along with the musical tale Peter and the Wolf (1936), he also wrote several celebrated ballets, including Romeo and Juliet (1935) and Cinderella (1944), based on Charles Perreault’s beloved fairy tale.

FRANCIS POULENC (1899-1963), France

Les biches, Suite, FP 36: “Final”

The composer of nearly 200 songs, Poulenc had his own distinctive style. From the serious to the mischievous, his creations were highly diversified. First performed by the Ballets Russes in 1924, the ballet Les biches depicts the interactions and light-hearted gallantries of a group of young people. Poulenc created a five-movement suite for orchestra, which ends with a sparkling Finale.

Did you know?

Puss in Boots can also be found in other musical works. For example, he makes a surprise appearance in a pas de deux in Tchaikovsky’s ballet Sleeping Beauty, which incorporates various other fairy tale characters, such as Cinderella, Little Red Riding Hood and Tom Thumb, as guests at the wedding of the Prince and Sleeping Beauty. This passage from the ballet is Tchaikovsky’s clever nod to the tales of Charles Perreault and the Brothers Grimm!




In this video you can observe the instruments of the orchestra in the “Ballet of the Unhatched Chicks” from Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition, which will be played during our concert.

Now here’s a version of that work with animation:

Henri Dès narrates the story of Puss in Boots (In French)